Around 11 p.m. the Saturday after Thanksgiving, an incident of aggravated sexual assault occurred on 17th and State Streets. Soon after the act, the Marquette University Police Department sent out email alerts informing the Marquette community that the victim was a female not affiliated with Marquette. This case of assault was one of the most major crimes to happen on campus this year, and there seem to be a lot more questions than answers surrounding the incident.
For one, this editorial board cannot help but wonder how students, faculty, administration and MUPD would be reacting had this woman been a Marquette student.
When serious crimes like aggravated sexual assault happen so close to where we live and go to school, it’s natural to want to separate ourselves from them. It’s natural to remind our roommates, friends and parents that we’re safe as long as we stay within a few specific blocks; the imaginary borders we construct between campus and the surrounding neighborhoods are seen as a sort of shield from the outside world. This false separation we construct in our minds allows us to forget quickly about a crime that takes place even down the street from where we live simply because the victim was “not affiliated with Marquette.”
The Marquette Wire editorial board has pleaded in the past with the Marquette community, especially its students, to see themselves not as separate from the rest of our neighborhood but rather as a part of it, in both its assets and its hardships.
It doesn’t matter who the victim is — situations like this and how the Marquette community responds define not only our campus’ relationship with our Milwaukee neighbors, but also our mission to care for the whole person.
We cannot be selective about when to care and for whom to care, especially when it pertains to something horrific like sexual assault. The victim very easily could have been a Marquette student. The assault took place among apartments and houses where students live, on a corner that’s usually pretty busy on Saturday nights.
In an attempt to help find the suspect, MUPD shared on its social media accounts a video released by the Milwaukee Police Department of security camera footage of a suspect in the case walking east on Wisconsin Avenue toward campus. MPD is in charge of the investigation, and MUPD assisted by sharing the video, but it’s not clear in the campus safety alert or in any description of the video as to how this person was found and identified.
What’s worse is the lack of response to the video from Marquette administration and students. Where’s the conversation, questions and discussion? If the victim had been a Marquette student, would the video be all over social media? Many students haven’t even seen the video. Why hasn’t the administration come out with more information? Just because the victim was not part of the Marquette community doesn’t mean the administration has no responsibility to inform students, faculty and staff of the incident. The assault happened in our neighborhood, but administration’s failure to talk about it creates the impression that it’s a nonissue.
By nature of the mission of this university, our campus can only be as safe as the neighborhood it’s in. Let’s not let this incident blow over without letting what happened to our neighbor serve as a reminder that this community’s problems are our problems.