New land, diversity among topics at presidential forum

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz/ [email protected]

University President Michael Lovell hosted his first biannual presidential forum Monday in the Alumni Memorial Union.
Lovell opened the forum with several university announcements, the most significant of which was an update on the newly purchased land behind Straz Tower earlier this year. Lovell stated that the new land will most likely not be offices or academic-related. It will most likely focus on athletics and research, and both will be student accessible.
“It will most likely be some kind of recreational facility or/and an athletic facility for track, lacrosse and soccer,” Lovell said. “But the other thing we talked a lot about is research, we would like a place where we can put some research facilities.”
Lovell also mentioned the possibility of combining the two.
“One of the ideas that has come out is the idea of doing research on athletic performance and training or other things to help out the Arts and Sciences or Engineering,” Lovell said.
Lovell participated in meetings with Harley Davidson, Aurora West and numerous other institutions in the Avenues West area two weeks ago to improve the nearby community. Plans were formed for each of the participants to focus on a two block radius of their institution to ultimately make it a safer and more livable environment.
He also announced the formation of a $5.7 million innovation fund which would grant students the opportunity to submit their ideas and allow them to influence the way Marquette invests in new ideas or programs.
“We will be launching a website in a couple of weeks where you can submit your ideas… or maybe something you’re passionate about” Lovell said. “Even if you don’t have an idea we can put you on a team to develop someone else’s idea.”
Finally, Lovell announced the success of the food drive for Hunger Task Force Monday. The one-hour food drive brought in 2,186 lbs. of food, which surpassed the initial goal of 1,000 lbs.
“The great thing for me was that the majority of people bringing in food were students helping to provide for those less fortunate than ourselves,” said Lovell.
The floor was then opened to the students who raised a variety of different issues and concerns.
The topic most commonly brought up by students focused on the issue of cultural inclusivity and the diversity in the Marquette community. Two student organizations – The Ad Hoc Coalition of Students of Color, The Native American Student Association brought letters addressing change they wanted to see on campus. The Center for Intercultural Engagement, an office of the university, also brought a letter to Lovell to address changes. 
On the topic of cultural inclusivity, Interim Provost Margaret Faut Callahan discussed a plan for a new enrollment model.
“What’s being recommended is that we look not only at the students who we bring to campus that will truly represent the community, and the community that we want to be,” Callahan said. “But also, as important as that is how we bring students to Marquette, how we allow students to be successful and thrive at Marquette.”
“Students don’t know the power of their voice on campus,” said Joseph Martinez II, a fifth-year senior and member of the Ad Hoc Coalition of Students of Color. “As a fifth-year senior it took me five years to form a voice and say I’m tired of these issues I’m facing as a student, and I shouldn’t have to face them.”
The topic of diversity also brought up discussion of intercultural engagement opportunities on campus as well as fairer treatment of culturally diverse students on campus.
Besides diversity and cultural inclusion, another popular topic of discussion was campus safety. Students brought up topics ranging from LIMO drivers waiting until students were fully inside their desired destinations before departing, tobacco usage on campus and poorly lit parts both on and off campus.
Other popular topics in the forum were plans regarding sustainability, specifically filling the sustainability department roles at Marquette, improving Marquette’s sustainability in general and questions regarding the leadership of positions in charge of the sustainability re-organization.
Although the forum was only an hour long, Lovell’s first presidential forum covered a variety of different issues.
“Every time he speaks I just get continually excited to be a student, so it’s kind of sad being an outgoing student as a senior,” said Thomas Schick, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “Some of the concrete goals he sets and the ability to listen to students and be so connected is something that really excites me.”​