President responds to campus safety concerns

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Photo provided by Mount Mary University

Knowing that Arches is interested in gathering facts, I spoke with several people here to get some additional perspective before responding to your questions.

When an emergency exists, the university utilizes RAVE, an emergency alert notification system, to communicate quickly and broadly with students, faculty and staff. Last weekend, this system was utilized and students in the residence hall were quickly notified that an emergency existed. During the course of this event, we also utilized social media channels to expand our communications reach.

We are fortunate to have a Public Safety office staffed with experienced law enforcement and security professionals. These were the officers who responded to last weekend’s incident in the residence hall. Their quick response and timely decision to bring in the Milwaukee Police Department for assistance led to the subsequent arrest of the man implicated in this incident. Police interviews were conducted with residence hall students and staff that evening and again the next day, which provided a basis for law enforcement reports and an ensuing court case. From everything that has been conveyed, both MPD and our public safety officers handled this incident in a calm, professional and reassuring fashion.

However, it is also good to review our safety procedures and responses. Mount Mary has a critical incident committee which regularly reviews our emergency and security procedures and makes recommendations for changes, when situations call for them. This recent resident hall incident is an opportunity to once again review our procedures – and we welcome this. You posed a good question regarding the staffing of the front desk in Caroline Hall. This matter is under review. This month, cameras are being installed in public areas of our campus. We have heard from a number of students, faculty and staff that this is a welcome addition.

In recent months, when circumstances called for it, I have gone directly to our Mount Mary community with a follow up message of my own. This is an effort to increase transparency and shed light on new information, when we can provide it. We know that some people want more information. Sometimes, we can provide it, other times, an ongoing investigation limits what is shared with us or what we can convey.

The December incident that you reference was handled by our Public Safety department. Our officers reviewed a threat and subsequently determined, in consultation with Milwaukee police, that it did not rise to a level of a police investigation. There are circumstances when our community has to trust the work of our public safety officers knowing that security is their area of training and expertise, 24/7.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this perspective and to once again offer a reminder that while campus security is the focal point of one department, we all have a role in ensuring a safe campus environment. Mount Mary is a safe campus but we are not immune from issues that surface in our larger community. Public safety is a shared responsibility — a collective responsibility. We all have a responsibility and a vested interest in watching out for each other and in reporting unusual activities to public safety.

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