New safety measures introduced on campus

Some+faculty+members+have+questioned+the+universitys+decision+making+process

Some faculty members have questioned the university’s decision making process

For some faculty members the university announcement regarding new safety measures on campus was well-received. However, it brought university priorities into question and raised concerns over past faculty and staff departures, due to financial shortfalls, amid the university’s announcement to hire more Marquette University Police Department officers. 

“It really wasn’t until, from my perspective, it became a public relations issue and not just a safety issue that this action was taken,” Doug Smith, director of the International Business Studies program, said. 

Crime in Milwaukee has been on the rise in recent years and the city has broken the homicide record for the past two years. This year there have been 18 more homicides than at this point last year.

“Safety is important on campus not just because we all live and work there…but it’s impossible to recruit people to come to Marquette if there is a perception that it is not safe on campus,” Smith said.

Marquette has also experienced safety concerns after a string of armed robberies in the fall semester and an investigation involving the shooting of a Milwaukee Police officer, that concluded on campus.

As part of the new measures, University President Michael Lovell said that he will be “personally involved” with the president’s task force that works to improve campus safety and wants to increase focus on community engagement. 

Lovell also promised full “institutional support” to address the issue of safety on campus and in the surrounding community. 

This issue is bigger than Marquette. I have spoken with Milwaukee’s acting mayor and the chief of the Milwaukee Police Department, and I will reach out to additional law enforcement leaders and community partners to explore how our organizations can collaborate to address the systemic roots of crime,” Lovell said in the statement.

Some students looked at the new safety measures a a step in the right direction towards improving campus safety.

“I think it’s pretty good, safety is pretty important and should always be first priority especially when you’re just walking around,” Emilio Munoz, first-year in the College of Engineering said.

While the announcement responded to safety concerns from community members, other members of campus called for attention to other areas of Marquette.

“It seems like the university is really responsive to an important issue of safety,” Philip Rocco, associate professor of political science, said. “We promise students a safe campus and we want to deliver on that, it’s important. We also promise students a certain quality of education and for me it’s important that we put our money where our mouth is on that one too.”

Last year the university chose not to renew a “single digit percentage” of nontenure-track faculty members. The numerical amount of contracts not renewed was never made public. Additionally, 39 positions were eliminated due to “short term and long term financial challenges.” 

“I don’t want to attribute bad motives to people who are in charge, but we don’t know why this decision (to increase safety measures) has particularity over every other one,” Smith said.

Smith also said that since the university never confirmed all of the positions that were eliminated, there’s no way for community members to know if any MUPD positions were a part of the eliminations. 

“It’s hard to find many successful businesses or firms when you have departures, retirements in core areas of production that are really important to what the organization does and they don’t rehire,” Rocco said.

The Marquette Wire inquired about the financial aspects of the new safety initiatives. The university responded with the following statement:

Marquette is committed to addressing safety due to the recent crime trends in our city, and we are confident that the initiatives announced by President Lovell will be a step in the right direction. Through the president’s Task Force on Community Safety led by MUPD Chief Edith Hudson, we will be able to monitor and report on progress towards our goals — both near-term and long-term. We intend to share future updates on our progress as the Task Force is formed and begins to implement the safety and security initiatives,” Lynn Griffith, university spokesperson, said in an email statement.

Though the safety initiatives have yet to be put into place, questions surrounding university personnel decisions and safety measures remain on campus.

“Is this a good thing? Absolutely. But to do it right now when they knew some time ago that there were safety issues, raises questions in my mind as to how decisions are getting made … if it were just about safety they would have done it a while ago,” Smith said.  

Sarah Richardson contributed to this report.

This story was written by Megan Woolard. She can be reached at megan.woolard@marquette.edu