Welcome Back and Happy New Year
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Welcome back, and Happy New Year!
As the spring semester begins today, University leaders are aggressively focused on a multi-pronged initiative to promote safety on and near the Twin Cities campus. I am committed to making our campus and surrounding areas safe places for us to study, work, and live.
Targeted patrols on and around campus by UMPD officers and partner law enforcement agencies resulted in more than 20 arrests and gun seizures since September. And we are developing new, effective, and collaborative approaches to campus safety that involve University offices, student government, and our local law enforcement partners, along with public officials and nearby neighborhood organizations.
We all play an important role in keeping each other safe. But, students, I want to speak specifically to you: You need to continue to be vigilant in watching out for each other's safety by keeping your electronic devices out of sight and utilizing well-traveled areas of campus and your neighborhoods. Report crime immediately and be part of solutions to keep our campus safe.
Our approach is focused on four areas: environment, education, enforcement, and engagement. Here are just a few of the actions we're taking right now, with more to come.
- Starting today we are extending hours of the Campus Connector bus service between the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses to 2 a.m., seven days a week.
- We also are extending the hours of the Washington Ave. Bridge Circulator and East Bank Circulator bus services to 2 a.m., Monday through Thursday, starting today.
- We are implementing a new evening Weekend Circulator bus service between the East and West Banks beginning this coming Friday.
- We are expanding the Gopher Chauffeur for a second time, and now the free transportation service will operate from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights during the semester, starting this Thursday.
- We're making immediate infrastructure improvements, such as changing light fixtures along the campus-side of University Avenue, from yellow sodium bulbs to brighter and more consistent white halide bulbs. We have developed a plan and budget to improve lighting in other high-traveled areas, and we encourage students to use those better-lighted pathways.
- Work is also underway to balance the University's traditionally public and open buildings with current security realities by implementing a building access schedule by the end of the spring semester. That schedule will limit access without proper student, faculty, or staff identification cards when general public access isn't necessary. Look for additional communications about this effort.
- Both the University and the City of Minneapolis have identified resources to add more security cameras on campus and in the neighborhoods near campus. Work will begin this spring.
- This week, a new, ubiquitous awareness campaign, "SAFE U," will roll out to heighten everyone's consciousness on this pressing issue of safety. You'll see distinctive posters, table tents, digital signs, social media outreach, and a Web presence.
- We've also enhanced the "Safety and U" website to provide current information about resources, what the U is doing to promote safety, and what students and others can do to stay safe.
- The University will continue to deploy undercover and uniformed police patrols on campus (and off-campus in conjunction with other local law enforcement) to deter people seeking to do harm, to prevent crimes, and to catch criminals.
- Last month, UMPD added three officers, increasing its ranks to 50.
- University Services and UMPD will add 20 to 30 additional student staff to the , for a total of 150, while increasing the hourly pay rate for student monitors.
- A student "Town Hall" meeting is being planned. U leaders and I want to interact directly with students and hear your ideas and suggestions.
- On January 29, African American students, faculty, and staff are holding a forum to discuss campus safety and the impact of racial profiling and racial stereotypes on campus climate, and ways to address these issues together in our community. A number of University leaders will attend this event.
- We are also planning and convening a metro-wide public safety strategy session with law enforcement agencies, public safety experts and civic leaders.
- We are advocating for federal and state legislation mandating "kill switch" technology and other measures to discourage the resale of stolen electronic devices.
I hope you can see that campus safety is a top priority as the new semester begins, and that we are aggressively and strategically confronting this challenge. Thank you.
Eric W. Kaler
Sent by President Kaler to Twin Cities faculty, staff, and students.