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U of M undergoing campus reforms

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nearly six months after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, the University of Minnesota is undergoing several efforts to reexamine and reform campus police.

However, some say they feel change is not happening quickly enough.

The University Senate and Senate committees have been discussing several student-led reform proposals while the University’s consultant Cedric Alexander continues his review of UMPD. Student activists have voiced concerns about the University’s progress on police reform and oversight.

Following the announcement of his review in August, Alexander has been gathering community input on UMPD. He has met with over 200 individuals on campus, President Joan Gabel said at the Nov. 5 University Senate meeting.

Alexander’s contract with the University does not specify an end date for the review, but the University anticipates it will be finished toward the beginning of 2021. Alexander is paid $25,000 for each month he works with the University, The Minnesota Daily reported,

“(Dr. Alexander’s) input will provide valuable perspective on opportunities to enhance safety on the Twin Cities campus and it will be thoroughly considered. However, the University will not hesitate to consider ways to enhance public safety if necessary while Dr. Alexander finishes his work,” according to a University statement emailed to the Minnesota Daily.

The Senate, which is part of the University’s governance structure and is led by Gabel, voted on Nov. 5 to form the Campus Safety Committee, a centralized group that will advise University leaders on campus safety and policing, among other responsibilities. A Professional Student Government task force pioneered the committee after Floyd’s death.

The Senate Consultative Committee (SCC), which is composed of faculty, staff and students and reports to the University Senate, urged senators to vote against the proposal. The committee cited a lack of consultation with governance committees and other stakeholder groups, and because members of the SCC said it would be beneficial to wait until after Alexander completes his review of UMPD.

According to a comment on the agenda for the November Senate meeting, “The SCC opposes adoption not because the suggested bylaw amendment lacks merit. Instead, it opposes the bylaw change at this time because this amendment would better be considered … after the final report from Dr. Cedric Alexander is available.”

In the comment, the SCC said it would consider approving the bylaw proposal for the Campus Safety Committee after Alexander’s report becomes available.

Despite the statement, the Senate approved the proposal with a vote of 119 to 48, with nine abstaining.

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