Early Sunday morning, around 2:00 a.m., an altercation broke out around the 500 block of State Street, resulting in the brandishing of a firearm. There was no Wisc-alert nor was there a subsequent email to let students know that their safety was in potential jeopardy. While not technically on university property, the weapon was pulled in an area that on Saturday nights, and Sunday mornings, has one of the highest densities of students.
Unaware of such a hazard, many filtered in and out of nearby apartments and bars, potentially putting themselves in harm’s way.
Rightfully outraged, a friend of mine reached out to the dean of students demanding some sort of the rationale as to why we were not notified to such a threat. Deflecting, the dean did not respond, having the University of Wisconsin Police answer instead.
Their reply was as follows: “Later Sunday, the City of Madison Police Department arrested the person with the gun and is currently being held in the Dane County Jail. By the time the UW-Madison Police Department learned of the incident, it was determined the man had left the area and was seen walking the opposite direction of campus. Therefore, we had made the conclusion that there was no threat to campus and it was not necessary to alert our community about a threat.”
Such a botched response to the incident leaves many upset, with numerous questions unanswered.
If the suspect roamed free until later Sunday, how come they were not seen as a further threat? Even if they had put their weapon away and started walking east up State Street, they were still walking through an area filled with students. Is it not the university’s job to keep their students and community members aware when there might be a gun wielding aggressor roaming the nearby streets?
Further, at what point would it have been deemed necessary to alert students of the situation? After shots were fired in a densely student-populated area?
The lack of responsibility and clarity stemming from university officials is inexcusable, dangerous and reprehensible. According to the website of the dean of students, their mission is to “create a culture of caring on campus,” yet by not even answering directly to student concerns, the office shows that they’re not truly concerned with student safety.
Especially in light of the terror attack on Las Vegas, it’s imperative for officials to be hyper-vigilant to any threat of attack, regardless of its outcome.
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It is vital that everyone demands more from the university. Students should be aware of any sort of possible violent threat, regardless if it’s on or off campus.
Advocating for such things is absolutely necessary, and easy. Whether that be a mass movement and bombardment of emails calling for a valid answer; or even sit-ins at the Dean’s Office calling for an audience.
It is not okay for students to be in the dark when their safety is in question. Everyone deserves better. If there is a threat in an area with lots of students around, people should be alerted— period. Ambiguity and vagueness is no way to care for your community members.
Adam Ramer ([email protected]) is a junior interested in history and politics.