The University of Minnesota’s Student Neighborhood Liaisons are reaching out to the greek community to improve neighborhood safety.
The greek organizations are traditionally philanthropic, but the liaisons hope to get more local greek involvement by recruiting them to be Block Club members.
Block Club members inform neighbors about crimes in the area and report suspicious activity to the police.
John Mutsch and T.J. Atkinson, liaisons for the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and greek members themselves, recently floated the idea to the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils’ leadership. Both the IFC and the PFC presidents seemed receptive, Mutsch said. He also wants to reach out to the multicultural and professional chapters.
“Ideally we’d have a Block Club leader from every single chapter on campus,” he said.
Mutsch and Atkinson are putting together a presentation for the next IFC and PHC meetings.
Nick Juarez, crime prevention specialist for the 2nd precinct, said greek participation would be beneficial. For example, last year the area had a few vandalism incidents. Block Club members could have helped with providing information in those cases.
Angela Ugorets, PHC president, said the idea is a good one and would be a resume-building opportunity. She said she would help market it to the greek community.
“If they want to speak at a meeting or want to send out an email,” Ugorets said, “I would be happy to pass the information along and get people involved.”
But Amelious Whyte, chief of staff at the Office for Student Affairs, said he isn’t entirely sure of how receptive the greeks will be to the proposal.
“I think it would depend upon what the time commitment is because greeks, like lots of students, are very busy,” he said.
But Whyte is open to the idea himself.
“If it gets them to be more actively engaged where they live, I think it’s a good thing,” Whyte said.
While the Block Club program hasn’t been presented to the greek community as a whole yet, Matt Niezgoda of Beta Theta Pi fraternity said he’s hesitant to get involved at this point, because the greeks are setting up a program of their own.
Arkeo –– a greek party self-policing system –– is set to be launched next week after months of false starts.
Niezgoda said, “I would be more interested in getting [Arkeo] off the ground and running before we go and try to loop in something else.”