The student group Co-Lab held their first official event this past Thursday.
Co-Lab was created as a workspace for student entrepreneurs at the University of Minnesota to develop solutions for campus problems. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights), the University Police, and members from the Minnesota Student Association and Students Today Leaders Forever were in attendance.
The group announced their first crime innovation contest, which awards students $1,500 in prizes to whomever comes up with the most innovative solution to combat campus crime and promote safety.
“This is one of our attempts to empower students to be innovators and changemakers here at the University,” said Katrina Becker, member of Co-Lab.
The group introduced some student safety initiatives, including Walk With Me – created by students Ben Hohl and Nels Pederson – an app that helps students in the same area find walking partners and track walking routes. Another idea was the U-Band, a bracelet students wear on their wrists to grant them access into University buildings
At the meeting, UMPD said although the police are increasing safety initiatives, they’re concerned there hasn’t been a real change in student behavior on campus. UMPD said they encourage student groups like Co-Lab to come up with their own ideas to help with crime on campus.
“If you can get the message out to get students to change the way they operate,” said University police Sgt. Jim Nystrom, “those are the things this group [Co-Lab] can really help us out with.”