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Homecoming organizers offer tour of Near West Side

The+view+out+the+front+window+of+the+bus+headed+down+a+street+in+the+Near+West+Side.
The view out the front window of the bus headed down a street in the Near West Side.

The view out the front window of the bus headed down a street in the Near West Side.

The view out the front window of the bus headed down a street in the Near West Side.

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Marquette alumni and students had the chance to tour the Near West Side Saturday, Oct. 7, as part of a homecoming week event.

A product of the Center for Peacemaking and CAMPus Impact, the tour explored each of the Near West Side’s seven neighborhoods on a coach bus.

Chiana Roman, a junior in the College of Nursing, joined the homecoming committee this spring. She is an employee at the Center for Peacemaking and a volunteer at CAMPus Impact, and decided to offer the tour along with other members of CAMPus Impact.

“We sat down and we were brainstorming on what would be a way to offer something within the Near West Side,” Roman said. “We thought it would be a really great way to show what these neighborhoods already have going for them.”

The tour was chosen for homecoming week because while Marquette is home for alumni and students, Milwaukee as a whole should be their home as well, Roman said.

“I think we are very good at going into these communities to be the difference or to serve, but we often forget that we should just be a part of the community,” Roman said. “It’s a great opportunity to show the participants that this is a community that is alive and well. There are beautiful stories and faces and people that already make up this neighborhood.”

The hour-long tour focused on promoting the assets and sharing the history of the Near West Side. Keith Stanley, director of the Near West Side partners, lead the tour with Roman.

“Sometimes people who live in the Near West Side or who work here may not see the full Near West Side and all the assets it has to offer,” Stanley said. “This tour allows us to highlight the history of the Near West Side and the connections that, whether you’re a student or a resident or a business owner, we all share together.”

Buildings pointed out on the tour included the Ambassador Hotel, the Rave and Miller Park. Stanley and Roman also pointed out smaller businesses such as Daddy’s Soul Food on 27th and Wells Streets as well as local outdoor destinations such as the Three Bridges Park and Washington Park.

The bus additionally passed through several residential areas in the Near West Side. As the bus drove through these neighborhoods, Stanley touched on the importance of gaining feedback from the residents.

“We have to listen to the residents. That’s a big thing for us. A lot of times people will come in and think, ‘Well I have an idea, this is their problem and we’re going to fix it,’ and for us that’s not the case,” Stanley said.

The participants consisted entirely of alumni. Elizabeth Killian, President of CAMPus Impact, commented on what it was like to see former students tour the Near West Side.

“They (got) to see not only the improvements of Marquette, but the improvements of the Near West Side and how it has grown since they’ve gone to school here,” Killlian said. “I think it was really awesome for them to be able to see the community.”

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