Bringing Global Perspectives to Campus Safety

Posted on: April 21, 2022

While on the phone with her mom in Zimbabwe, Paidamoyo (Paida) Chikate hesitated to tell her how concerned she was about the increase in crime on campus. 

“I found myself not wanting to tell her the truth about crime, which made me sad because I always talk to my mom,” Paida said. “But I didn’t want her to worry when she’s 9,000 miles away.” 

Paida is a PhD student in Evaluation Studies and Data Analysis. She completed her master’s degree in public policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 2016 and spent several years working for the United Nations before returning to campus, where she found herself feeling less safe than a few years prior.

“Things have changed so much in terms of crime,” she said. “It’s made me more nervous about being on campus. It also made me frustrated.”

Paida met with a sergeant in the Department of Public Safety to address some of her concerns. She started to wonder how she could contribute to the conversation around campus safety.

In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, the President’s Office launched a campus safety initiative, known as MSafe. Paida joined a committee that examined policy recommendations and worked to determine what issues had been addressed, what was in the process of being implemented, and where work still needed to be done.

This experience made her a perfect candidate for the role of International Outreach Leader—a position that was created when the University of Minnesota Police Department reached out to International Student and Scholar Services in search of someone with diverse international perspectives. The Culture Corps program was happy to help.


“As an international student, you can bring a different perspective,” Paida said. “Policing in the U.S. is a very specific thing, whereas policing generally in the world may be another thing. Seeing the world through those two lenses helps you become more objective, or at least have some grace when it comes to some of the tensions that are between police and people in the U.S.”

Paida explained she can also have more honest conversations with students, as she’s coming from the same place they are.

“Sometimes when staff, faculty, or UMPD folks want to talk about safety, it’s difficult because they are stakeholders in the system that has all these complications,” she said. 

Sergeant Ashlee Lange, who heads UMPD’s community outreach efforts, has seen firsthand how the system has changed in an attempt to address those complications.

“When I started police work ten years ago, it was a completely different job,” Sergeant Lange said. “A lot of things have happened socially in this world, in this country, in this community. I’m looking back at the history of police work, how far we’ve come and then, in retrospect, how far we have to go. And so when you look at that, you choose to be part of what’s next.”

Paida and Sergeant Lange are working to make sure students know they can contact the department for help. They launched a department newsletter, which includes a section for Paida to answer reader-submitted questions. They will host a student summit at Coffman Memorial Union on April 29. The event has no agenda, but will instead be an open space for students to come and share feedback.

“When the climate is not positive toward law enforcement, it makes international students not want to approach the police even when they really do need them,” Paida said. “I think students can be reassured that UMPD is here for them and it’s an organization that wants to help students.”

Sergeant Lange agreed, noting that certain crimes specifically target international students, such as scams and fraud.

“I don’t want people to be afraid of us, because then a lot of crimes go unreported,” she said. “We want people to report it so that we can do some education around it.”

Paida encouraged other international students to get involved and bring their perspectives to campus safety.

“What can you bring to the table?” Paida asked. “This is community policing. If the goal is to protect the community as a whole, we as community members also have to contribute to that effort.”

Have questions about UMPD or safety on campus? Ask Paida.