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What’s glossed over in this article about security near the St. Cloud State campus is important. In fact, there isn’t a legitimate reason for what isn’t in the article. What the editorial lacks in important information, though, it makes up for with applause for Earl Potter, part of which is genuinely deserved:

During the just-completed 2013 move-in weekend, St. Cloud police reported issuing 59 citations, only 11 of which went to university students. That’s a huge drop from last year’s citations, which totaled 161. More importantly, the 11 citations to students last weekend continued a steady decline in the number of university students contributing to any move-in weekend problems.

St. Cloud State deserves applause for their focus on campus security. Students should be applauded for behaving responsibly. The St. Cloud Police Department deserve applause for clamping down on students’ bad behavior.

The Times should be ridiculed for including this paragraph in its editorial:

Look no further than the latest tool to make the campus neighborhood safer — the St. Cloud Police Department’s new Campus Area Police Services officers. Thanks to the university paying salaries and benefits, three city police officers are assigned to the campus area.

Conveniently missing from the Times editorial is the monthly amount St. Cloud State is paying the City of St. Cloud for police the city should be paying for. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, aka the MOU, St. Cloud State “shall pay” St. Cloud “$20,000 per month for services performed satisfactorily pursuant to this agreement.”

According to the MOU, the contract started on July 1, 2013 and expires on June 30, 2016. That means St. Cloud State will pay the City of St. Cloud $720,000 for services that should be paid for by the city government. That’s if you’re convinced that SCSU needs additional security. According to the editorial, move-in weekend citations dropped 63%. Only 18.6% of the citations went to St. Cloud State students.

Another consideration that isn’t being talked about is whether St. Cloud State has the financial wherewithal to afford these officers. Currently, they don’t. If this administration says different, they aren’t being honest with the public. They’ve lost $2,250,000 during the first 2 years of the agreement between the University and the Wedum Foundation. With enrollment declining at a precipitous rate, tuition revenue is shrinking dramatically.

Faculty, staff and administrators alike agree that enrollment is the lifeblood of a university. The highest FYE enrollment was in 2010. Depending on where enrollment settles in this semester, enrollment since that high point will have dropped by more than 20%.

Here are some questions worthy of consideration:

  • Is it the responsibility of SCSU to pay for city police officer salary and benefits?
  • Is it justifiable for SCSU to pay for police services conducted off campus?
  • With significant declining enrollments at SCSU, would one or two officers be more appropriate? Would it have been better if this agreement was delayed altogether?
  • Would it be more appropriate to spend $720,000 (based on a 3 year contract) on existing academic programs, staff services (e.g., like admissions personnel), or OAS personnel?
  • Is it reasonable for SCSU to have 3 police officers during the summer months?
  • Will the campus-based police officers have any teaching assignments to generate FTE’s?
  • Is there a mechanism to objectively measure the effectiveness of this agreement?
  • Will police services be paid through student fees, students’ tuition, taxpayer money or a combination of these sources?
  • Will this arrangement open up a Pandora’s box for SCSU to pay for other city services?

Aside from these questions, the MnSCU Enrollment Report dated 8/28/2013 paints a bleak picture:

St. Cloud State did come up, but still is down almost 13%. As I mentioned in my last report, there is little doubt in my mind that St Cloud CC is affecting St. Cloud State.

With St. Cloud State’s enrollment and tuition revenue problems being this dire, it’s difficult seeing how the University can afford to pay for police officers, much less officers that are the city’s responsibility.

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