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February 19, 2007

Spring break alternative: Y Immersion program

The University YMCA offers trips that take college students to see social justice problems firsthand and learn what can be done about them on a grass roots level.

Destinations this spring include:
Denver (to learn about child abuse and domestic violence)
New Orleans (to help with hurrican relief)
New York (to study human trafficking)
San Diego (to learn about border issues)

Financial aid may be available. Visit the Y's website for more info.

February 16, 2007

Your student is called for jury duty--now what?

Students who have a drivers license reflecting their Hennepin County address or who registered to vote in the county are subject to be called for jury duty, as a story in today's Minnesota Daily illustrates:

About three weeks ago, Alison Carter got a letter many people dread: a summons to jury duty. The communications studies and English literature senior said she was initially nervous and upset by the letter. A past experience with the court system that confused her record with a criminal's left her with negative feelings about going to court, she said.

"I was a little frustrated" upon receiving the letter, Carter said. "Initially, I was dreading it."

So Carter did what just about anybody would do: she tried to get out of it. Carter said she called and asked to be removed from service because she's a student. She said she thought she'd be able to get out of it because her mom had jury duty waived while she was in college.

Unfortunately for Carter, being a college student isn't an excuse for missing jury duty, said Lynn Lahd, Hennepin County court operations supervisor of the jury division.

Students who attend classes at the U but maintain a permanent residence in a different county or state may be exempt from the jury duty requirement, however.

This link to the Hennepin County Fourth District jury office offers more information for students facing a summons to jury duty.

January 22, 2007

Daily calls for undergraduate representative to Board of Regents

The Board of Regents, the twelve-member volunteer body that governs the University of Minnesota, has been accepting applications for new members to fill vacancies.

One of those vacancies is for a student representative to the Board, and the review council that selects finalists to be considered for the position has selected 3 candidates: 2 law students and a graduate student.

Today's Minnesota Daily calls for greater undergraduate student representation on the Board:

his was going to be an important year for undergraduate students to take a special interest in the Board of Regents. For the first time in six years, the student spot on the board is up for grabs. The Board of Regents, the governing board of the University, always has a student spot. The "student" currently being replaced on the board is Lakeesha Ransom, who was finishing her Ph.D. in Human Resources Development and is a senior project manager at Best Buy Co. Ransom doesn't seem very representative of the student body, with a full-time job and an advanced degree, but you can hardly blame her since all regent terms, including student regents, are for six years.

The Regent Candidate Advisory Council selects finalists for regent positions, and this year they are boasting that the applicants are "more than qualified," and that this year they chose three student candidates, even though the norm is two. However, it is too bad that the final candidates do not include an undergrad.

Isn't the point of a student regent to be an actual representative of the student body? Anyone can agree that the lives and priorities greatly differ between undergraduate and graduate students.

The committee did receive applications from undergraduate students, a few of which have had experience with the board. The chairman has said the committee is looking for students who can "hold their own" in discussions with regents. Apparently, this only includes students seeking higher degrees.

But maybe not many undergraduate students applied, because they knew they would be locking themselves into a six-year position. At this point in undergraduates' lives, most don't even know what jobs they want after college, much less where they are going to live.

To generate more interest in the position, get different kinds of students to apply and achieve an undergraduate student voice on the Board of Regents, we suggest shorter student terms and a selection committee with an open mind about undergraduates.

January 19, 2007

Admissions Ambassadors accepting applications

Students who want to share their enthusiasm and their experiences at the U are encouraged to apply to become Admissions Ambassadors, giving tours to prospective students and their families, helping out at Campus Preview Days, visiting high schools, participating in student panels, and taking prospective students to class.

In addition to having a positive influence on students considering attending the University of Minnesota, Admissions Ambassadors volunteers have intramural sports teams, plan social activities, and participate in Spring Jam and Homecoming activities.

Students who would like to apply to be part of this great organization can attend an information session on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. in the Office of Admissions Freshmen Welcome Center, 200 Jones Hall.

Students can pick up applications at the information session or in 200 Jones Hall.

Application deadline is Friday, February 2nd, 2007. Contact 612-625-2445 or oswa0053@umn.edu with any questions.

November 13, 2006

Daily continues to look into why students turned away from the polls

I can't imagine anything more disheartening for a young first-time voter than going to the polls to exercise his or her right to have a say in the direction this community, state, and country take over the next two years, and being turned away. Especially in a state that allows and encourages same-day voter registration.

From today's Minnesota Daily:

For students, apartment managers and election officials, providing acceptable proof of residency for students living off-campus in future elections is raising concerns.

"Students are considered, in many cases, a transient population," said The Melrose Executive Director Jennifer Dilley. "So it's more difficult for a student to establish their permanent residence."

Confusion ensued on Election Day after students living in off-campus apartments were initially unable to use copies of leases and billing invoices as proof of residency.

Minnesota election laws state utility bills students use must be "original," but election officials didn't accept bills from select apartment complexes.

And here's the perspective of a graduate student who served as an election job in a local precinct, also from today's Daily:

I worked as an election judge at the Ward 2, Precinct 4 polling station that was in Coffman Union this past election. I am writing only as a person that was there, and I do not represent the secretary of state, the city of Minneapolis or any officials. I wanted to write in about my observations on the voting process. I love my job as an election judge; I love being a part of the process of people voting. It was difficult for me to work at a polling station that had to turn many potential voters away.

First, there was a lot of misinformation that had been circulated to students. Many of the students in the residence halls were told that they were already registered, and this was not the case. Minnesota state law allows colleges and universities to provide a list of all students living in their residence halls.

This list is used as a verification of address and then the students only need to show their student ID. However, this is a special case for students living in the dorms. I spoke with many students who were under the impression that they only needed to show their U Card, even if they didn't live in the dorms.

Other students came in and said that they had been told they could vote there because they were a student, regardless of where they lived. This is not true. You need to vote where you live. I realize for many students the "where they live" part can be confusing.

Many students still count their parent's house as their "where they live." However, according to the state of Minnesota, you are a Minnesota resident after living in Minnesota for 30 days. All of the students living on and around campus are Minnesota residents in the eyes of the state, and that is why they can register to vote at their current address. The lines drawn for the precincts are a bit confusing, and the precincts are small enough so that your next-door neighbor or the person across the street could be voting at a different location than you.

Second, there were students who did not have the proper form of identification in order to register to vote on the day of the election. Minnesota is one of six states that offers same-day registration, a fact that I believe contributes to our high voter turnouts.

In Minnesota, you can register to vote by mailing in a card before the election. On this card you provide information about yourself, answer two short questions and affirm the oath that you are who you say you are and that you are eligible to vote.

If you register on the day of the election, you need to have a photo identification and proof of address. If you have a driver's license or state ID with your current address - great! If not, like so many of the students around campus, then you would need photo identification and a utility bill. The types of utility bills are limited by state law and though it would make sense to have something such as a lease as a proof of address, it's not in the law.

The other option is to have a voucher. With this system, you need to know one other person who is registered or can register to vote in that precinct and they sign a form vouching for you. To the many students who were frustrated on Election Day, please know that Minnesota does try to accommodate as many people as possible and that registering in advance is the easiest course to take.

I would ask two things. Because so many students on campus are first-time voters, and even if they have voted before they might be first-time Minneapolis voters, I believe that the Minnesota Daily should run a story just before Election Day that talks about how to vote and where to vote, citing specifics from the city of Minneapolis and the state (such as correct forms of ID, where to vote, how to know where to vote, etc). Also, I would encourage students to register to vote ahead of time. This saves a lot of time at the polling station and it does not matter if you have a utility bill.

And just a note, because so many times this ends up feeling like an "us versus them" conversation: Election judges take their job seriously and it is our job to follow the laws and procedures. I want everyone who is eligible to vote to be able to go out and vote.

November 12, 2006

Students' off-campus behavior may soon be subject to code of conduct

...reports the Star Tribune:

University of Minnesota students who run afoul of the law off-campus soon could be punished under a new student code of conduct presented to the U's Board of Regents on Thursday. The current code allows university officials to slap sanctions on lawbreaking students only if they commit their misdeeds on campus. Such sanctions could include withholding a diploma, expulsion from university housing or from the U itself, or revoking admission to the U. Such actions are over and above any law-enforcement actions against students.

Gerald Rinehart, vice provost for student services, said the amended conduct code isn't the result of any particular incident but merely part of an effort to review and update university policies. He said the new off-campus jurisdiction would probably result in no more than four to five cases added to the university's disciplinary docket a year.

In reviewing such cases for possible sanctions against students, Rinehart said, the university would concentrate on behavior that threatens the health and safety of students and staff. That could include sexual assaults, other assaults and stalking. U officials would not be looking to punish students for minor off-campus arrests and citations, such as those for underage drinking, he said.

Rinehart said the amended policy, which the regents are slated to act upon next month, would help control student behavior close to campus, and would help in some special instances. One would allow the university to change class schedules to separate students involved in off-campus sexual assault cases.

"That's caused no end of problems for the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim," he said.

No link--this is the whole story.

November 9, 2006

Round-up of articles from the Minnesota Daily--Part I

I haven't done one of these omnibus posts in a while...

Thousands of University students voted on and around campus on Tuesday, although not quite as many voted as in 2002 and 2004, the Daily reports:

On the third floor of Coffman Union, groups of students were getting in line outside the Mississippi Room doorway to vote.

The line at noon was about 20 people long and by 4 p.m., 471 ballots had been cast, according to an election judge.

This election, 788 people voted at Coffman, down from other midterm elections.

In 2002, another midterm election, 1,791 voted at Coffman. In the 2004 election 2,111 voted, but presidential elections traditionally draw more voters.

Voting statewide was down about 80,000 votes from 2002 and 2004, but vote tallies were not yet finalized by the state canvassing board, which meets Nov. 21.

Not all students were able to exercise their right to vote, however. Election judges turned away about 100 students living in off-campus housing complexes near campus, stating that the students had insufficient proof of residency:

By mid-afternoon on Election Day, a Hennepin County judge ruled in favor of the students, but it is unclear how many returned to the polls.

Journalism junior Andrew Cummins, who lives at University Commons, said he went to the polls Tuesday but was turned away because his lease and an addressed letter were not proper identification.

He said he did not return to vote because he was unable to find someone to confirm his residency.

"I don't understand how a lease isn't a proof of residence, but a cell phone bill is," Cummins said.

DFL spokesman Nick Kimball said approximately 25 Melrose residents were turned away at the polls, despite providing a utility bill.

Kimball said the students contacted the DFL Election Protection Program, a service which enables citizens to report polling problems while also providing legal assistance to voters whose rights were suppressed.

Lawyer Alan Weinblatt was contacted about the voting discrepancy Tuesday afternoon. He said students couldn't register because their utility fees were charged to Melrose apartments instead of billed directly to students from the utility company.

The issue was brought to the attention of Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, he said, but Kiffmeyer decided the utility bill was improper verification.

Ms. Kiffmeyer did not win re-election as Minnesota's Secretary of State; perhaps Secretary of State-elect Democrat Mark Ritchie will be able to ensure that college students are not disenfranchised in the next election.

Here's the whole story, and a letter to the editor from one of the students affected, and one of the election judges involved in the controversy.

I will have to finish this entry this afternoon--look for Part Deux.

November 3, 2006

U's Legislative Network encourages voters to support the U

Next Tuesday, November 7th, Minnesota voters--including U students and their Minnesota parents--have an opportunity to show candidates at the state and national level that investing in higher education and the University of Minnesota are high on voters' list of priorities.

Polls will be open from 7 am until 8 pm on November 7th. Click here to find your polling place.

The State of Minnesota allows voters who have not registered ahead of time to register on-site on Election Day, as long as they have one of the following to prove their eligibility:
• Valid Minnesota driver’s license or ID card with current address
• Utility bill due within 30 days of Election Day with name and current address along with a Minnesota driver’s license, Minnesota ID card, military ID card, student ID card, or passport
• Registered voter from the same precinct to vouch for voter's address

Students may also bring:
• Student photo ID, registration, or fee statement with your current address
• Student photo ID if you are on a student housing list on file at the polling place

For more information, visit the Legislative Network's website.

November 2, 2006

Students heading to the polls in record numbers, survey says

They’ve been labeled politically apathetic, but college-aged students are planning to vote in record numbers on November 7, according to a poll from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.

Thirty-two percent of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed in the biannual poll on politics and public service said they “definitely will be voting? in the midterm elections, and three in four said the likelihood that they would cast ballots was at least 50 percent.

Young voter turnout has hovered around 21 percent in the last four midterm elections, an institute official said. Since the voting age became 18, the best non-presidential election turnout was 1982, when roughly 27 percent of this demographic group participated.

For the first time in six years of polling, the institute sought out 18- to 24-year-olds who are not attending a college or university. About half of the 2,546 people surveyed between October 4 and 16 were enrolled in an institution. Among all voters in the age group, recent college graduates were the most likely to say they “definitely? planned to vote, with the least likely being people who never attended college or are in high school. Undergraduates and graduate students were the subgroups most likely to indicate being “politically engaged or politically active.?

Read the rest of the story, from Inside Higher Ed.

September 8, 2006

Encourage your student to register to vote

I know that fall is underway when political campaign materials, and even the candidates themselves, are suddenly visible around campus. As the state primary (September 12) and the general election (November 7) approach, these sightings will become more and more common.

Some college students will be eligible to vote for the first time this fall, and University volunteers will be staffing voter registration booths around campus to help them take this first important step towards excercising one of their most fundamental rights as citizens. To avoid long lines and the need to bring proof of residency to the polls, students are encouraged to register before October 17th. Preregistration also means that students will be able to vouch for friends and neighbors who live in their voting precinct.

Students who have voted in the past should re-register to vote if they have changed names or moved since last voting.

Students will be able to vote on campus, but they also can vote by absentee ballots in their home districts. In that case, they must plan ahead and apply for absentee ballots in person or by mail before the election.

For more information on voting in Minnesota, visit the Secretary of State's website. Here's Wisconsin's Secretary of State's website.

June 9, 2006

Student volunteer to be recognized by Congress

Here's part of the story from the Minnesota Daily, which profiles several students who serve the community as volunteers:

University student Jaymes Grossman will receive the Congressional Award Gold Medal on June 21 at Capitol Hill, partially for his community involvement. His 16-year-old sister, Jansina, also will receive the award.

College students across the country volunteer thousands of hours of their time each year - some for school credit and some, like Grossman, out of the goodness of their hearts.

Grossman chose to volunteer with the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Association because his uncle has had the disease, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, for eight years.

Grossman didn't volunteer to get the award, but said it is "awesome to be recognized" for the volunteer work he's done.

Students interested in volunteering and receiving college credit for their efforts can check out the Community Engagement Scholars Program on the Community Involvement and Service Learning website.

March 16, 2006

"Pay It Forward" tour makes impression in Boston

From The Boston Globe:

It had been two days since the college students had taken a shower, and they were filthy.

Covered in dirt and grime from cleaning up a Pennsylvania state park, they eagerly anticipated hot showers at a Cambridge homeless shelter, which they cleaned top to bottom yesterday before boarding a bus to help poor families in New York City.

A whirlwind cross-country volunteering tour is not a typical way to spend spring break, but it is how these 38 University of Minnesota students choose to illustrate the ''Pay It Forward" concept popularized by the 2000 movie in which one good deed led to another.

For one week, instead of tanning on an Acapulco beach in Mexico, the students are picking up trash, scrubbing graffiti, and trying to spread hope -- one act of kindness at a time.

March 7, 2006

Minnesota precinct caucuses tonight

U of M students interested in participating in the political process have the opportunity to attend their political party's precinct caucuses tonight. Each of the 4 major parties (listed alphabetically below) in Minnesota has a disctrict finder at its website, which will allow your student to find the correct location to attend, based on the student's address.

Democratic-Farmer Labor Party
www.dfl.org
651-293-1200

Green Party of Minnesota
www.mngreens.org
612-871-4585

Independence Party of Minnesota
www.mnip.org
651-487-9700

Republican Party of Minnesota
www.mngop.com
651-222-0022

February 13, 2006

New Minneapolis ordinance on parties

On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council enacted an ordinance that could affect U students who host or attend parties in the city's neighborhoods, the Minnesota Daily reports. Minneapolis police officers are now able to issue $150 civil citations to people participating in parties considered to be "unruly" or noisy.

Students issued on-the-spot civil citations will no longer be subject to the criminal process, which will probably work to their advantage when they begin job hunting. "Several years down the road, if students are asked if they've been convicted of a crime, the student who paid a civil citation can answer no--which would not be true for students who paid a criminal citation," the University's Student Legal Services attorney Bill Dane told The Daily. Student Legal Services attorneys and staff are available to advise students about both civil and criminal citations.