University of Minnesota tightening access to some West Bank buildings

No real need for the public to be here on a Sunday, is there? (AlexiusHoratius via Flickr)

The University of Minnesota is shortening the number of hours the public can access seven buildings on its West Bank campus.

The move, a pilot project that started today, comes after a last semester’s spike in robberies — one of which occurred in the Carlson School of Management.

The buildings generally used to be open to the public about 15 to 16 hours a day, including weekends.

But U spokesman Tim Busse said that access will shrink to about eight to 12 hours a day — generally during normal business hours. And many of the buildings will be closed to the public on all or part of the weekend, as well as on holidays.

“We’ve been working very hard to balance that very public mission of the University of Minnesota with the security realities that we’re facing today,” he said.

Students and employees will have more access than the public. During the most restricted hours, only those people with special permission to enter buildings — such the one an employee works in — will be able to get in.

Busse says campus officials are testing the plan to work out kinks. If it runs smoothly, it could expand to the rest of the West Bank during spring semester — and then to the rest of the U by next fall.

The buildings under the plan are: Elmer Andersen Library, Anderson Hall, Barker Dance Center, the Carlson School of Management, Hanson Hall, Mondale Hall and the Regis Center for the Arts.

Busse pointed out that one of last semester’s robberies on the list — the Carlson School of Management — was the site of a robbery one weekend last December.

“There’s no reason that building should have been open to the general public — wide open to anyone — on a Sunday afternoon,” he said.

Bussee said students should be used to such measures, because their high schools are just as restrictive, if not more so.

“Students will adapt fairly quickly to this,” he said. “It might be a bit more of a challenge to our faculty and staff who have been around a while and are used to a wide-open atmosphere, so we’ll have to get them used to carry [university identification] cards with them.”

To members of the public used to wide access — such as to the U’s libraries and tunnels — “it’s going to be an adjustment,” he said.