Residents of Greektown seek more attention

Safety and road maintenance are problems Greektown is trying to fix.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:09 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Some MU students living in the area known as Greektown say they think they are ignored by both Columbia and MU when it comes to safety. The newly founded Greektown Safety Council is working this summer to get them noticed.

“It’s a highly populated area, but we’re not claimed by the city or the university,” said Krystan Fields, a junior at MU. “It’s downright annoying.”

The Greektown Safety Council was founded in January when officers of the Missouri Students Association noticed that they were getting numerous complaints on their Web site about the area. Robb Loran, a junior, director of the Department of Student Services for the MSA and head of the council, said student complaints were largely about ­dangerous driving conditions in the winter and fear of walking through poorly lit Greektown at night.

“We want to make sure things get taken care of,” Loran said. “In the winter, roads weren’t plowed for weeks after it snowed. And some people say they won’t walk through Greektown past dark. Ever.”

Janna Basler, director of Greek Life, said that even though 25 percent of MU’s student population is Greek, Greektown is considered part of the city of Columbia, not MU’s campus. She worries that this sometimes creates safety issues.

“The Columbia police just have so much area to cover,” Basler said. “It takes them much longer to get to Greektown when they’re called than it would take the MU Police.”

Loran said Greektown typically has the same problems as anywhere else on campus in terms of crime, but that response to those problems is much slower.

MU Police Capt. Scott Richardson said the MU police have an agreement with the city police. MU’s police can deal with certain accidents on certain streets in Greektown, but they do not respond to calls from the sorority and fraternity houses because they are considered private residences.

Loran invited each fraternity and sorority to nominate delegates for the council. The council then went to the Columbia City Council to get an understanding of who had what responsibilities. Soon after, Loran and his committee members walked through the area and compiled a list of problems to take to the city this month.

Loran’s team divided the problems they found into three tiers. The first tier includes issues that Loran hopes will be fixed this summer, such as potholes in roads. The second is made up of larger goals such as getting street lights put up. The third tier is ensuring that students feel secure in Greektown. Loran said he hopes all of the tiers will be addressed by the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

“These are students that not only pay taxes like everyone else, but contribute so much to the campus and the community,” Loran said. “We have more residents per capita per block than any other area in the city. They have the right to have concerns.”

Loran said when sorority presidents brought concerns about the roads to the city, no one called them back.

Jill Stedem, public information specialist for the city’s Public Works Department, said the streets of Greektown are difficult to plow because they are narrow and students constantly park on both sides of the street.

“This is a citywide problem, people parking on both sides,” Stedem said. “I do understand, though, that they’re limited on parking.”

Stedem said the Safety Council set up meetings on the issue, but then canceled them, so a discussion has yet to take place.

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