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Parent Email–September 4, 2012

  • Message From President Kaler
  • Parents Weekend: Register Now
  • Move-In Reports
  • Getting Around
  • A Question for the U of M Chief of Police
  • What's Happening
  • Miscellaneous

It's a beautiful day to start fall semester. Students are finding their way to classes and discovering that the University is really not that big when you know where you're going. See if you can find your student crossing Northrop Mall by checking the College of Science and Engineering's webcam.

Message from President Kaler

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler started the 2012-2013 academic year by posting a Message for U of M Parents. "Our spectacular University of Minnesota students returned to campus this week, and that wonderful new semester energy is upon us," he said. "It’s time for the students to get down to serious business. But I want you to know that, in preparation for the start of the academic year, University leaders have been hard at work for months on many important matters." Please read President Kaler's message to you.

Parents Weekend: Register Now

On Saturday, September 29, as part of Parents Weekend, College of Design Professor Brad Hokanson and College of Design Assistant Dean Kate Maple will demonstrate that creativity is a skill everyone possesses and needs to exercise. To prove their point, they will do a short, interactive presentation on taking a creative approach to solve every day problems. Following the presentation, teams of parents and students will flex their "creativity muscles" in a competitive activity along with other teams. Prepare to get your creative juices flowing with this activity and be rewarded with prizes for your efforts!

The deadline to register for Parents Weekend is September 10.

Move-In Reports

Now that students are settled into their residence hall room or apartment, on campus or off, we'd like to hear the parent perspective on how move-in went. If you moved your student into a residence hall or on-campus apartment, please send your comments to Lisa Schulte at If your student moved into an off-campus apartment in one of the neighborhoods surrounding the University, please send your report to Kendre Turonie at

Getting Around

The work of the University's Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) is not just focused on parking lots and shuttle buses. Communication is a big part of their work. With the start of the fall semester, and with construction projects all around campus, PTS has been developing social network messaging to deliver information and updates to students, staff, and faculty.

Bus Tracking options help riders find out where the campus buses are and the predicted arrival time for the next bus, using their desktop, laptop, or mobile device. QR barcodes are now posted on bus stop signs, and a Next Bus website allows riders to select a route and see where their bus currently is along the route and how full it is. PTS also has a Facebook page for sharing construction updates, transportation deadlines, and more.

Light Rail heavy construction will finish up later this fall, but the Central Corridor Light Rail will not be operational for two more years. Power installation and testing are still to come.

Seven home Gopher football games are scheduled this fall (September 8, 15, and 22; October 13 and 22; and November 3 and 24). On those Saturdays, holders of East Bank parking contracts must relocate or park their vehicles in the East River Road Garage. For students with Saturday classes, PTS has arranged for discounted parking rates in certain locations. See PTS Stadium webpage for specifics.

And just for fun, here is a Bird's Eye View of Campus, showing several current construction projects.

A Question for the U of M Chief of Police

A parent recently asked if her daughter should have pepper spray as a defensive tool, or is it against U of M policy or state law? Assistant Vice President of Public Safety and Chief of Police, Greg Hestness, offered this response:

The Regents policy refers to firearms or dangerous weapons as defined by state statute. Pepper spray is not defined as a dangerous weapon, so carrying pepper spray is not prohibited on campus. At the right moment, pepper spray can be useful for self-defense, but there are several caveats about it, and it is not a panacea:

  • In most cases, by the time danger is recognized, there is little chance to dig through a purse or coat pocket to find the spray. You have to be prepared to act, and hyper-vigilance is hard to maintain. It is also not a great (emotional and physical) state to be in at all times.
  • It is more important to be aware of your surroundings. This is quite a safe campus, but we are in an urban setting, and it's important to be alert. For students, that means judgment about where and when they go places, having companions with them at night, not being overly distracted with smart phones or iPods, and not over-indulging in alcohol.
  • If a person decides to use pepper spray, don't equivocate. The possibility of losing the spray to an assailant is there, and the spray can be turned on the owner. 
  • Pepper spray will not affect or disable everyone. It is best, when you think trouble is coming, to avoid danger, go another way, or go to a lighted business or building. If you cannot avoid trouble and the spray is used, don't stick around to see what happened. Use the opportunity to get away quickly.
  • If you are in fear in a situation, call 911. University Police and/or Minneapolis Police will respond. It's OK to call.
  • Use the Security Monitor Escort Service any time, or the Gopher Chauffeur service on weekends, rather than walking alone.
  • Pepper spray can be a tool in the tool box, but students need to understand it is not the first or the best option. Having it should not make a student  complacent or forget the more effective and common-sense steps.

What's Happening

"Campus life" includes all those events and activities that contribute to academic and personal success, but that happen outside the classroom. The fall schedule is quickly filling up, including some events to help students sort through all the opportunities:

  • Fall Activities Fairs 2012:
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, September 12, Coffman Front Plaza; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, September 18, St. Paul Student Center Front Terrace. The Activities Fairs showcase hundreds of student groups and involvement opportunities for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
  • Community Involvement Fair:
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, September 20, Coffman Union Great Hall. Students who want to experience involvement and engagement beyond the campus will find volunteer and internship opportunities with some 90 local organizations.
  • St. Paul Campus Job and Internship Fair:
    10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, September 19, North Star Ball Room, St. Paul Campus. Students can attend this job fair to connect with employers seeking full-time employees and interns in the fields of Agriculture, Animal Science, Banking/Finance, Bio-based Products, Communication, Food Industry, Retail and Sales & Marketing.
  • CLA Internship Fair:
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, September 25, Mississippi Room, Coffman Memorial Union. CLA students can learn about internship opportunities with a variety of employers who want to hire CLA students. Students should register in "Career Events section on GoldPASS.
  • Health Careers Fair 2012:
    1 to 4 p.m., Thursday, September 27, Coffman Great Hall. Students can meet with admissions staff and ask questions about many health careers.
  • Golden Gopher Pep Fest:
    11:30 a.m., Friday, September 7, Coffman Front Plaza. Pep Fest will feature guest speakers Coach Kill, President Kaler, and Athletic Director Norwood Teague. Also featuring the Minnesota Marching Band, music, prizes, and more.
  • Free Group Fitness Classes:
    September 10 to 16, University Recreation and Wellness Center (East Bank) and St. Paul Gymnasium. Fitness classes are available for students to try out at no charge and no obligation. For class information and schedules, visit the Group Fitness page.

More involvement and engagement opportunities are available through the Office for Student Engagement.


In the past week, we have posted photos of New Student Convocation and a preview of the Class Photo for the Class of 2016 on the University of Minnesota Parent Program Facebook page. More photos will be posted this week as we start the school year. If you have a Facebook account, please go to the Parent page and Like us. We don't send that many messages, but we do try to post pictures several times a week.

The start of the school year, despite all the best of intentions, can be so exciting that students go to extremes. It's not unusual for them to socialize too much, sleep too little, explore way beyond the borders of campus, and spend more money than their parents might have planned. If you get the sense that your student's life is out of balance, you may have the most influence in reminding them that there are only 168 hours in a week, and those 168 hours need to be parceled out between academic, social, and personal time. And personal time should include sleep, self-care, and quiet/reflective times.

Please take a look at our Parent Question of the Month and let us know your response.