The University of Minnesota is telling students that it's OK to be a "$*!@#" in order to keep your friends safe.
Through edgy ads, a public forum and free doughnuts, a campuswide campaign encourages students to "Stand Up." U higher-ups hope the effort will prevent the kind of crime that popped up on campus last fall.
The ads, created with students' help, are pulled from some of those incidents.
"He's been prowling around the ATM and something doesn't feel right," one says. "You've got a cell phone. Use it."
"When we thought about last fall, we decided to try to get our messages out ahead of the curve," said Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for student affairs. "We decided to be proactive."
The U's "Safety Week" is not new. But this year, the U transformed the week into a longer, broader campaign. It includes an April presentation for hundreds of students and athletes about sexual violence. Last fall, U fraternities cracked down on drinking and parties after several reports of sexual assaults.
The "Stand Up" campaign targets risky drinking, personal safety and sexual violence. If an ad in the Minnesota Daily doesn't reach a student, maybe a doughnut will.
This week, U police officers have greeted groggy students with free pastries and dark coffee. On Tuesday, rain pushed them just inside Coffman Memorial Union's doors.
"We're just here to remind you to give us a call if you ever need to," Chief Greg Hestness told Ashley Sogla as she grabbed a chocolate-glazed. "We're here for you."
"I called you guys once," said Sogla, a first-year student.
Later, she explained:
One of her friends called to tell her that "some guy was standing outside her dorm room and wouldn't go away." After her residential adviser didn't pick up, Sogla dialed the campus police, a number she was given during her first days in the dorm.
"They told him to go away, and he did," Sogla said. "As far as I know, he hasn't bothered her again."
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168