EDITORIAL: New updates may distribute irrelevant information

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Illustration by Eleni Eisenhart / eleni.eisenhart@marquette.edu

Illustration by Eleni Eisenhart / eleni.eisenhart@marquette.edu

Safety on Marquette’s campus is a constant issue, as crime in Milwaukee varies and presents new challenges to students and the Department of Public Safety. Staying up to date on major incidents is critical for students and officers to ensure they are addressed efficiently.

Last week, we called upon DPS to keep students in the loop about crime trends on campus and provide practical tips in addition to the standard safety reminders. According to a university-news brief released Oct. 2, DPS will now send out “safety updates,” which seem very similar to current safety alerts.

“In addition to sending safety alerts (when there is a threat to campus), Marquette will send ‘safety updates’ for high profile incidents that do not pose an immediate threat on campus,” reads the brief.

While getting more information about ongoing crime in Milwaukee is necessary in order to address it, these new “safety updates” are vague in design and purpose. What counts as high-profile incidents and what a non-immediate threat to campus could be remains unclear. It is undetermined how these updates will differ from the current emails and texts when something occurs on or near campus.

New updates may depict a more involved DPS force, but they seem more like fear-inducing information that may not be relevant to campus affiliates, as denoted by the term of not posing an immediate threat to campus. Instead, DPS should perhaps focus on distributing the most pertinent information on safety in a timely manner without issuing a disclaimer as to whether it poses a threat to campus or not.

Recently, DPS fell short in its alerts, begging the question of whether perceived threat has anything to do with what information students receive. On Sept. 12, there was a reported drive-by shooting, resulting in a driver crashing into a tree, near the intersection of 17th and State Streets. Milwaukee police are involved in an investigation of the incident, and even though it was just two blocks off campus and in the heart of off-campus housing, DPS made no statement. Students received no text or email alerts that night or in the following weeks.

This incident definitely falls into the category of a high-profile incident and demonstrated a serious threat to campus and students. With no campus alert, students in that area could have been caught in a dangerous situation or have had no idea a crime took place just next door. This event may have been a single, extreme incident but even without the new safety updates, this incident should have been publicized.

The addition of new safety updates, while vague and open for interpretation, implies these cases are somewhat less important to DPS, which could use its discretion when alerting cases. It is as if previously unreported incidents were too trivial to notify people on campus in preexisting safety updates. While we cannot be aware of every incident without driving ourselves to an overwhelming state of paranoia, students should have the hard facts to understand crime as it affects our community and to maintain a sense of comfort in knowing about our surroundings.

The added updates have the ability to remind us as students that DPS is working on serving campus and its inhabitants, a task that should be taken very seriously. Questions about how DPS is doing its part to keep campus safe may arise if these safety updates are just more of the same or needless information that clogs up our inbox.

A well-informed populace is better equipped to handle the difficult circumstances crime presents, and for the sake of campus safety, it is in all of our best interests for DPS to be forthcoming about the state of crime, on- and off-campus, immediate threat or not.

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