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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

CAMPus Impact invites students to explore Near West Side

CAMPus Impact seeks to encourage students to explore the Near West Side through club activities and service trips. Wire stock photo

Three Marquette students are on a mission to prove that there is more past 22nd Street than meets the eye with their new organization, CAMPus Impact.

After working for the Center for Peacemaking last year and surveying residents of the Near West Side for data analyses, program coordinator Sherri Walker encouraged Elizabeth Killian, Brian Martindale and Elli Pointner to start an organization dedicated to exploring Marquette’s neighborhood.

“We need to help our neighbors and create a more peaceful community and in doing so, that means that students need to reach out to the community and build relationships with residents in the community,” Walker said. “The idea for this student organization was just that – to reach out into the community and build relationships with our own Marquette community.”

When the students worked for the Center for Peacemaking, they became familiar with residents in the Near West Side after having long conversations about residents’ lives and their feelings about neighborhood issues.

“Last year, I grew a ton just from surveying and just from my little exposure of walking around and talking with people,” Pointner, a sophomore in the College of Education and CAMPus Impact treasurer, said.

After surveying residents, the students would work with others at the Center for Peacemaking to connect what residents said with what the data showed. This information allowed the Center for Peacemaking, along with nonprofit Near West Side Partners, to create initiatives to solve prevalent problems.

Although Killian and Martindale still work for the Center for Peacemaking, the students plan to focus on student experience when it comes to their new organization.

“I think we’re going to be a lot less data-driven and a lot more student experience-driven,” Pointner said.

The acronym CAMP in their organization name stands for seven Near West Side neighborhoods: Concordia, Cold Spring Park, Avenues West, Martin Drive, Merrill Park, Miller Valley and Pigsville/The Valley. The word “us” encompasses Marquette students, faculty and staff, according to the club constitution.

The students officially created their event-based organization in late April and hold general body meetings every other week to discuss recent activities.

Although the students have been heavily involved in the Near West Side through their work at Center for Peacemaking and want to continue doing so with CAMPus Impact, none of them came to Marquette from Milwaukee.

“Elli’s from a suburb of Chicago, Brian’s from Indiana, and I’m from New York, which are totally different places, and we all get to explore the Near West Side together,” Killian, a sophomore in the College of Education and CAMPus Impact president, said. “We all are so different, but we fill in each other’s gaps.”

“Coming to Milwaukee for each of us was new … It was this new place to explore and discover and learn about,” Martindale, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and CAMPus Impact vice president, said. “Since Milwaukee itself is different from our own backgrounds, it’s kind of cool to see the way in which it’s brought us together.”

The students held their first organization event Sept. 16, returning to their roots and participating in the Center for Peacemaking’s surveying blitz.

“The first person who opened the door – it was like the third door we knocked on – we talked to her for probably 20 minutes … all the sudden, this woman who we were expecting to just hand a survey and move on, we had a 20-minute conversation about culture, theology, what we’re doing at Marquette (and) her family,” Martindale said. “And then you’re like, ‘I thought this was supposed to be a dangerous area,’ but then all the sudden there’s such a human connection.”

Killian said she hopes to get more students to explore the Near West Side.

“There’s such beautiful people and such beautiful things in the Near West Side specifically, and we’re just able to get students into the neighborhood, which is really awesome,” she said.

In addition to the club events, such as visiting museums and restaurants on the Near West Side, the students also said they plan to do service work in the neighborhood, with one of these events being a fall break immersion trip.

The trip will be to City on a Hill, a nonprofit organization in the Near West Side. They plan to stay overnight Thursday and Friday, splitting up into groups during the day for service activities and reflecting at night.

“There’s a bunch of different non-profits and some of them are more heavy labor service and some are more talking to refugees and people who have just come into the country who want to learn English,” Pointner said. “Some of them are hanging out with teens. We’ve got a lot of different things.”


Martindale said he hopes CAMPus Impact will change students’ perceptions of the Near West Side.

“A few more crimes than another area or a few problem spots doesn’t define a neighborhood,” he said. “The people who are there really are beautiful, incredible, wonderful people that Marquette should really want to get to know and be a part of.”

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    Mike BrauerOct 5, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Congratulations to the students who initiated the CAMPus program. Messmer Catholic Schools runs a 460 student K4-8 school in Merrill Park (31st and Michigan). We have just invested $6.5 million in our neighborhood by improving our school building to make it safe, accessible, and soon — year-round. As you explore the neighborhood, be sure to consider engaging with our school, our teachers, and our community as well.