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Concerned parents group details suggestions to improve UMN campus safety

The letter recommends things like adding more blue lights on campus, as well as having subsidized Uber & Lyft rides for students.

MINNEAPOLIS — Ever since crime became a concern for parents of students who attend the University of Minnesota, a Facebook group has existed. 

There, mostly parents discussed the issues around Dinkytown. That group has now grown to include nearly 2,000 worried parents, students, Dinkytown business owners and alumni. 

Members of the group hope their concerns are on the minds of the U of M Board of Regents when they meet Wednesday morning. 

"The school I was attending my senior year was not the school I was attending my freshman year," Morgan McElroy said. He graduated in 2021, and has since joined the Facebook group. 

McElroy said he noticed the type of violence shift during his junior year.

"Guns being brandished on [and] around campus, carjackings became extremely common," he explained. "I had a few friends whose apartments were broken into or had been mugged and beaten 'till they were bloody on the side of the street."

Two-time U parent Brian Peck said these types of stories all came up at the safety listening session Monday night. The University of Minnesota hosted the session, promising the presence of the U's president Joan Gabel, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Minneapolis Police Interim Chief Amelia Huffman as well as UMPD Chief Matt Clark.

The listening session was to go for an hour. 

"The tone is frustration," Peck said, of how the parents are feeling. "Because we know the facts are the facts, we know crime is up 45 percent in the last two years, we know that president Gabel has spent 60 million dollars in the past two years on crime. Well, it's not working."

So in the hopes of streamlining conversation, the parents along with McElroy wrote up a four page letter with suggestions like subsidized Uber and Lyft rides for students, installation of additional blue light emergency phones, as well as a blue light siren that alerts students when and where shots are being fired.

"This was really just a good diving board to see where all the parents heads are at, get all of their ideas and opinions in one spot so we can figure out what's tangible and what's not, what's a starting point and what's more long term," McElroy said.

"I feel like our great University of Minnesota is crumbling right before our eyes," Peck added. "And it breaks my heart. It's not beyond repair, but we need to move quickly before the damage is really done."

The group said it has passed on the letter to one of the regents, in the hopes the letter will be addressed at Wednesday's Board of Regents meeting. 

Public Safety is an item on the agenda for Wednesday's meeting.

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