University of Minnesota officials take steps to boost campus safety ahead of new school year | #schoolsaftey

The University of Minnesota will boost police staffing, re-evaluate access to its buildings and experiment with adding turnstiles to a dormitory on the Twin Cities campus as it prepares for the upcoming school year.

About 58,000 students are expected to return to the five campuses in August.

“We are working hard to ensure that they know when they step foot on campus that they should feel a sense of safety, in every sense of the word, and know where to go for information,” Myron Frans, the university’s senior vice president for finance and operations, told the U’s Board of Regents in a meeting Wednesday.

Regents frequently hear from students, parents and lawmakers who are concerned about safety on university property and in the neighborhoods surrounding the Twin Cities campus. Public safety was a talking point at the legislature, and some lawmakers said they needed the U to do more to improve safety to justify giving it a funding boost. The budget package included an additional $10 million to focus on safety efforts at the U over the next two years.

Frans told regents U staff plan to use some of that money to increase police staffing, including bringing on an additional police dog unit, and to cover the costs of vehicles, cameras, radios, card readers that provide access to buildings, and other supplies.

The university is working to refresh its analysis of which buildings on the Twin Cities campus should be open to the public and which should have limited access, Frans said.

He said the U will also experiment with adding turnstiles to the Pioneer Hall dormitory on the Twin Cities campus to boost security.

“There is this tension,” he said, adding that the U is trying to balance access to public buildings like libraries and museums with the safety of students and employees.

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