The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: Wild Commons name change shows lack of foresight

Rev. Wild requested his name be removed the residence hall.

Marquette University President Michael Lovell sent an email to students Sept. 4, notifying them that former university president Rev. Robert A. Wild requested his name be removed from the new residence hall, formerly called Wild Commons. His request has been carried out and the building has been renamed “The Commons.” Due to the controversies in Wild’s past, the initial choice to name the new residence hall after him raises questions about the university’s decision process. 

In Wild’s letter to President Lovell and the Board of Trustees, he acknowledged that three of the Chicago Province’s members were accused of sexual abuse during the time he was Provincial Superior. Documents linking Wild to a clergy abuse case involving Donald McGuire were made public in 2011. Following the release of those documents, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a press conference on campus asking Wild to apologize for his involvement.

In response to the press conference, Marquette issued a statement that said the events happened prior to Wild’s time at Marquette and that all other questions should be directed to the Chicago Province, according to a Marquette Wire story published in 2011.

It was no secret that Marquette knew of Wild’s past when they named the residence hall after him.

Just because these allegations didn’t occur during Wild’s time as university president from 1996 to 2011 and from 2013 to 2014, it does not change his involvement. It also does not change the way people may view the university deciding he was the best public figure to name a $108 million residence hall after. It is difficult to understand Marquette’s logical justification for placing Wild’s name on a building.

When deciding what to name a university building, it is essential that research be done to make sure that the name of that person will accurately represent that building and institution in a positive light. Marquette should have taken caution when choosing the building’s namesake.

The decision to name the building after Wild was not last minute, either. The university began construction in November 2016. About two months later, it released the name of the residence hall. This gave the university more than a year and a half to contemplate its choice of namesake before the residence hall opened its doors to students. The building was to be named after Wild due to the donor’s request.

Due to the university’s lack of foresight, the residence hall was referred to as Wild Commons for two weeks before an email was sent to students about changing the name. The letters spelling out Wild’s name were removed from the front of the building the same day.

Although the university sent out an email letting the students know what was going on, it never took accountability for its own actions or involvement or gave students, faculty and parents the opportunity to have their questions answered. The university said it would not give interviews regarding the situation, reminiscent of the 2011 email, directing interviews to the Chicago Province. It seemed as if the university sent an email and avoided direct responsibility.

This situation with Wild and the new residence hall was not handled properly by Marquette in its namesake decision process. There was no caution taken when deciding on the name or making the abrupt announcement regarding the change. Whatever went wrong in the process of choosing a namesake leaves questions about Marquette’s core values and regard for its own reputation.

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