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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: It’s time to listen

Photo by Alex DeBuhr
A covered bus stop was previously at the corner of 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, where the new College of Business Administration building construction site is today.

To adequately address the increase in crime on campus, Marquette University needs to invest in community programming and better include community members in conversations about safety. 

Recently, Marquette University Police Department has sent out several safety alerts regarding crimes that have occurred during the day. 

There were two robberies reported March 21: a robbery near 19th Street and Kilbourn Avenue at 10:43 a.m. and a robbery near 22nd Street and Wisconsin Avenue at 3:48 p.m. There was also a shooting reported near 15th Street and Kilbourn Avenue at 12:06 p.m. March 26. 

Last week, MUPD did not send a text safety alert, but sent an email to students about a non-Marquette affiliated individual who attempted to break into a vehicle, fled on foot, discharged his gun near 18th Street and West Highland Avenue and shot himself in the leg. The individual was transported to the hospital. 

In response to these incidents, Marquette announced last week that the President’s Task Force on Community Safety would be implementing new safety measures on campus to address the increase in crime on campus. 

These changes include adding police patrols, security officers, LIMO drivers and security cameras, making residence halls and campus more secure, expanding safety content for SPARK and New Student Orientation and the Ambassador program with the Near West Side Partners.

While the university’s responsiveness to take action should be commended, Marquette should consider adopting more inclusive and preventative strategies to address safety concerns in addition to its current plan. 

Of the eight members on the steering committee, the only community leader represented is executive director of the Near West Side Partners Keith Stanley

Marquette, like many Jesuit institutions, is centered in the Milwaukee community to be of service and stand in solidarity with it against injustices and inequities. 

While these are the goals, many of Marquette’s recent decisions on campus could be seen as dividing us from the community. 

As construction began for the new College of Business Administration building last year, the covered seating at the bus stop on the corner of 16th Street and Wisconsin Avenue was temporarily moved by the Milwaukee County Transit System. The bus stop was heavily frequented, and the covered seating allowed people to rest and avoid harsh weather while waiting for the bus. 

The covered seating at the bus stop hasn’t been replaced. 

Marquette cannot uphold Jesuit values of “cura personalis” and men and women for others unless it includes community members in safety discussions. The crime is not just happening on Marquette’s campus, it’s happening in their neighborhoods as well. 

One way the university can help keep community members safe is by giving them the option to opt into safety alerts. Marquette could post QR codes around campus in general that could take them to a link to sign up. 

If students’ parents as well as faculty and staff can opt into safety alerts — many of whom are not on campus — Marquette can better protect community members who live nearby. 

The university should also consider hosting a town forum for community members to come and share their opinions and concerns about safety. Engaging in direct conversations with community members not only sheds light on areas where Marquette can serve nearby neighborhoods but it can also allow them to tell Marquette what solutions are best for them. 

Marquette should also consider working with new Marquette University Student Government President Bridgeman Flowers and Executive Vice President Samari Price. The pair shared during the MUSG presidential debate March 27 that investing in nearby neighborhoods could be a solution to support community members.

These steps are important for serving community members as well as Marquette students who commute, as they also have to face these safety concerns. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted Milwaukee communities, especially those that are predominately communities of color and low income. Marquette needs to listen and serve. 

As a result of discriminatory policies like redlining that have disproportionately impacted communities of color, Marquette needs to recognize that Milwaukee residents need to be supported, not saved. Recognizing the agency of community members is essential. 

As a predominantly white institution, Marquette should not be playing the “white savior.” 

Marquette needs to be transparent with prospective and new students about the crime on campus. 

Additionally, the university should revitalize its student and parent orientation programs. Marquette already announced plans to expand the safety content at SPARK and Orientation. This should include discussions with students about using their discretion in unsafe situations and discussions with community leaders about nearby Milwaukee neighborhoods. 

Marquette is not a gated or isolated campus, and this could be important to helping students recognize they are guests in these communities, breaking down the “Marquette bubble” and increasing visibility and helping amplify community voices. 

Having these conversations with students and families when they first step on campus will not only break down the division between campus and community members but it will also help break down stereotypes that often circulate among students and families. 

Another way Marquette can help prevent crime is by investing in community programs. The university should aim to bolster local communities through discussing and working with communities about the issues they face. Supporting nearby communities could mean funding programs and initiatives related to health care, food access, transportation, equitable education and mental health resources that empower people.

Marquette is receiving pressure from faculty, staff, students and families to address safety concerns on campus. Implementing remedial efforts is not enough and it does not strive for a truly Jesuit university. 

While people may be afraid for their safety, addressing these concerns has to begin with listening to community members if we are to develop successful, long-term solutions. It’s time Marquette listens.  

Editorial topics by the Marquette Wire are decided at weekly meetings between members of the executive board. The editorial is crafted with leadership by the executive opinions editor. The executive board consists of the executive director of the Wire, managing editor of the Marquette Tribune, managing editor of the Marquette Journal, general manager of MUTV, general manager of MUR and ten additional top editors across the organization.

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