MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Students at the University of Minnesota are taking a stand on safety. An online petition has received thousands of signatures demanding an increased police presence on and near campus.
“I fully acknowledge we live in Minneapolis. We live in the city. it’s not the safest place,” said Sara Gottlieb, a senior who co-wrote the petition. “Freshman, sophomore, junior year, I didn’t feel so at risk. I didn’t feel like everywhere I walked there was a target on my back. Just this semester I’ve felt like I can’t walk two blocks.”
The petition created on Nov. 20 has received more than 3,200 signatures as of 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. Many of the signatures are from concerned parents and students.
Rachel Sadowsky, a sophomore and co-author of the petition, says the increased crime has made her and many other students feel trapped in their dorms and houses.
“We can’t be the students we want to be,” Sadowsky said. “We can’t go the library at night because we can’t walk home alone. I don’t even feel safe walking a block away from where I live at night.”
Gottlieb and Sadowsky say between the two they know at least a half-dozen students who have been the victims of a crime this year. Since Aug. 1, there have been around 16 robberies on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods, which University police described as a pretty average. The students we spoke with disagree.
“We’ve already had seven crime-alerts in November alone,” Gottlieb said.
Last weekend, students were warned after someone impersonating a security or police officer sexually assaulted a student early Sunday morning.
The University urged students to not walk alone and to be aware of their surroundings. Gottlieb says many are following the advice from police, but they’re still becoming victims.
“Even coordinating walking with a big group doesn’t feel safe anymore,” said Gottlieb. “There are big groups that get mugged. If you’re with six people that’s not going to do anything if someone pulls a gun on you.”
Gottlieb and Sadowsky say they simply want to see more officers in surrounding neighborhoods where many students live. And if steps are not taken right way, they say students will transfer out and they’ll discourage other students to apply at the University.
“We want the University to work towards getting things done and we hope that that happens so we wouldn’t have to come to that point,” said Sadowsky.
On Monday, University of Minnesota Vice President of University Services, Pamela Wheelock updated students on their safety efforts. Their news release said they continue working with Minneapolis Police and over the weekend UMPD officers logged additional overtime hours.
They also said at 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning they arrested three 19-year-old men. The driver had a revoked license and the car was not insured. After searching the car, they found a BB gun pistol. None of the men were students at the University and were booked on lurking with intent to commit a crime.
Wheelock says the easiest way to arrive at a destination safely is to walk with someone or use University resources such as Campus Escort Service 612-624-WALK or the Gopher Chauffeur 612-388-6911.