EDITORIAL: HALLoween-like programs key to MU and MKE bond

Trick-or-treaters in costume make their way past Cudahy Hall. Photo courtesy of Mykl Novak/Tumblr.
Trick-or-treaters in costume make their way past Cudahy Hall during HALLoween festivities.
Photo courtesy of Mykl Novak/Tumblr.

On Wednesday, campus residence halls became a candy haven for local Milwaukee children as Marquette’s Residence Hall Association put on its 17th annual HALLoween. The event offers a safe space in the community for local youth, led by student volunteers, to show off their costumes while trick-or-treating through the halls. Each year, the event draws hundreds of children with their parents from the area, including the Avenues West neighborhood directly surrounding Marquette.

During his inauguration, University President Michael Lovell announced his plans to collaborate with the Avenues West neighborhood, in the hopes of transforming the area we share into “a destination where people want to live and work.” Of course, Marquette must be well-acquainted with the neighborhood if it expects this collaboration to result in increased safety and livability in the future.

HALLoween is one of the most visible displays of Marquette’s connection with the neighboring community. Programs such as HALLoween help foster this sense of familiarity. Aside from the undeniable cuteness of miniature Snow Whites and Buzz Lightyears swarming campus for a day, the event is key to maintaining the bond between the university and the city. It allows students and local residents to interact with one another and feel like a part of the same community, challenging the notorious idea of the “Marquette Bubble.”

For community service and philanthropic work, Marquette tends to send its students away from campus, whether it is to project sites across the city via Hunger Clean-Up or to sites across the nation via Marquette Action Program trips. However, HALLoween allows the community to come to Marquette, making service something that occurs not only outside our campus borders, but within them as well. Parents are always looking to provide their children with fun and safe activities, especially in an urban environment. Offering recreational programs on campus allows Marquette to meet this need by helping families make vital happy memories together.

In light of HALLoween’s consistent success, it may be time to consider expanding the initiative and holding similar community events on campus throughout the year, rather than just each October. The possibilities for programs are endless. In keeping with the holiday theme, for example, why not offer a campus-wide Easter egg hunt in the spring semester, or invite the wider Milwaukee community to take part in the December Miracle on Central Mall event? Events could also be modeled on the interests of Marquette students, who can take part and share their knowledge and ability with others.

RHA is not the only organization that can plan events for students and neighborhood communities, of course. Others, such as Late Night Marquette, Greek Life and MUSG, could collaborate with the administration to establish fun and safe programs open to families in neighboring communities.

While the initiative benefits the surrounding community the most, it also has some positives for Marquette as well. By opening our campus to the community, Marquette will inevitably feel more familiar to community members as they continue to visit. The university can be more than a four-year, degree-conferring institution if it takes an active and inviting role within the community. Such initiatives would prove we are a vital and approachable resource that is an active member of the greater Milwaukee community. The successes of the HALLoween program are commendable, and it would benefit the university and the community to see similar programs going on throughout the year.