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UMN considers making more buildings U Card access only

Pending the results of the University’s review, more buildings may require U Card access to enter.
Image by Wejdan al Balushi

The University of Minnesota announced it will be changing their building access policy to be accessible by U Card only in an email sent to students, faculty and staff by Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans on  July 13.

Frans said the Department of Public Safety at the University began reviewing building access requirements for 70 of the 140 buildings currently open to the public.

“We are working to balance necessary access for members of the University community and keeping appropriate buildings available to the public with security practices that promote the safest possible environment,” Frans said in the email.

Bill Paulus, associate vice president of facilities management,  talked with representatives and occupants of these buildings for recommendations and feedback in order to build the new policy. Facilities management looks after the buildings on campus and has been involved in setting up these discussions.

Facilities management’s operational functions will not be impacted by this review, according to Paulus.

“The primary role for Facilities Management in this process has been keeping the Facility Roles Program database current so the right academic and administrative contacts can be included in each of these building-by-building discussions,” Paulus said in a statement email to the Minnesota Daily.

The building access review is part of the University’s work to improve safety on campus, Erin Brumm, parent of a University student and board member of the Campus Safety Coalition (CSC), said. She added she advocated and supported the University updating their policy for a long time.

“A lot of these policies are old,” Brumm said. “The policy from 2017 might not be the best policy in 2023.”

Brumm added recent incidents at the other institutions as well as the University, such as the shooting at Michigan State in March and the deceased person found in Appleby Hall in April, contributed to why she believes the policy change is necessary.

“I think what happened at Appleby Hall really punctuated the problem,” Brumm said. “I don’t know if that policy would be addressed otherwise.”

Libraries, museums and Coffman Union will remain open to the public, according to Frans’ email. Brian Peck, parent of a University student and president of CSC, said striking a balance between safety and openness is important.

“We need to make it safer, while still ensuring that it’s open as a public university,” Peck said. 

Peck added CSC has advocated for stricter building access to University administration and it was “something that really needed to be addressed” in light of safety concerns and stories of non-University personnel squatting in University buildings. 

“Students will not notice much difference since U Card building access is already common for buildings on the Twin Cities campus,” the University’s public relation team said in an email to the Daily.

Brumm said she is encouraged by the University’s new policy and other work done to improve public safety on campus.

“I think things are moving in the right direction, things are starting to come together,” Brumm said.

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