I started at the Daily as a neighborhoods intern during my freshman year of college. From there I moved up through reporting and editing positions before becoming the award-winning paper's editor-in-chief. As a reporter, I wrote almost 100 stories and blog posts. As leader of its 90-person editorial department, I prioritized production of longform pieces and a transition to digital-first mindset.
Call spikes strain SMP
One of the most rewarding projects I ever worked on investigated the University of Minnesota's student security monitor system (aka 624-WALK) which employs students to be 24/7 eyes and ears for University police.
During the fall semester, every time a violent crime occurred on or near campus, administration urged students to call 624-WALK for a walk home. It’s not a job for everyone. SMP monitors work up to 60 hours a week patrolling buildings and escorting people home into the early morning hours. Then they go to class. Burnout is rampant.
I analyzed program call logs and staffing to find that while employment was stagnant, use of SMP spiked, raising questions about whether the program was equipped to handle influxes of calls.
The Wright Legacy
Sometimes, my work at the Daily took me to the archives or lent itself to hourslong interviews. This profile of John Wright, one of the University's most notable professors and a civil rights leader on campus in the late '60s, took several months to put together. As campus protests gained new, modern traction, Wright reflected on what had and had not changed since his efforts to combat racial inequality at the U of M decades earlier.
Muslim students find room to pray
Similar to another story of mine on Muslim students' struggle to stick to halal diets, this project explained how they also find it challenging to find appropriate places to pray during the school day. They described tucking themselves in hallway corners or kneeling in open courtyards for daily prayers, and having to explain to professors why they would regularly need to duck out of lectures for a few minutes. Despite a few places campus groups reserved for prayer, many said there wasn't enough available to accommodate the University’s Muslim population.
Athletics department complaints pile up
In early fall 2015, two top University of Minnesota athletics directors stepped down from their roles within a month following various complaints that included alleged sexual harassment. Jackie Renzetti and I wrote about how their departures — along with ongoing federal investigations — were signs of the department's tumultuous culture. That piece won first place in the sports story category of Associated Collegiate Press's 2016 Best of the Midwest competition.
Who owns Dinkytown?
My interest in the campus area Dinkytown business district began early on. The first project I ever wrote explored the hub's long history of evolving to fit student needs (and sent me to the archives for the first time). That year, I also broke the news that several family-owned businesses would be razed and replaced by luxury apartments in an article aptly titled Megatown or Dinkytown? I fell in love with telling the story of people who made this busy little neighborhood feel so iconic to campus dwellers.
That beat work culminated in a project that used property records to see who exactly owned the real estate in Dinkytown, and what their visions were for the area. Often faceless and sometimes entire states away, these property owners ultimately decide which tenants fill the area’s storefronts and who can buy area real estate. For the most part, they were split between giving the area a facelift or preserving its hyperlocal history.