Police Chief Edward Flynn referred to students living in the UW-Milwaukee campus area as “guests” in a letter sent to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Laliberte and the Student Association on September 21.
Flynn also defended the month-long increased police presence on the East Side in the letter, provided to The UWM Post by the Student Association.
“We have attempted discussion, education, alternatives and employed other less effective methods,” he wrote. “It appears our strict enforcement and new practice of taking violators into custody are the strategies that have the greatest impact on the disorder.”
This is in contrast to 1st District Police Captain Stephen Basting’s assessment of the situation last week.
“I don’t believe I’m going to be able to ticket my way out of this,” Basting told the Post. “But we will continue the enforcement.”
Flynn saved his strongest words for students living on the East Side.
“I view your students as ‘guests,’ since most do not own property in Milwaukee and they do not directly contribute to the tax base,” he said. “As guests, they should be exhibiting appropriate conduct.”
Tom Luljak, vice chancellor for university relations, said the increased police presence, which resulted in 102 arrests, has been effective in building student awareness of the issue.
“We appreciate the fact that the police, in stepping up this fall, have made it clear that it is important that students act as respectable tenants.
However, he said that Flynn’s characterization of students as guests was, “just wrong.”
“Students are just as much citizens of the City of Milwaukee as property owners,” Luljak said. “Our students contribute directly to the health and vitality of the city.”
Luljak pointed out that although students may not directly pay property taxes, a portion of their rent does contribute to the city’s coffers. Students also work in the community and volunteer at local charities and nonprofits.
“There are a lot of nonprofits who rely on student volunteers for support … and I don’t think they would consider students as guests,” he said.
SA President Tereza Pelicaric issued a statement saying she was “appalled” by the sentiments expressed in Flynn’s letter.
“I have always been diplomatic, wanting to have an open conversation about solutions, but I struggle to believe that putting our students on display for public humiliation is a solution much less even appropriate for deeds as minuscule as noise violations,” she wrote.
Pelicaric wrote that the chief’s attitude illustrated “biased beliefs” against students and any further progress on the issue could be stunted because of his remarks.
The letter, available here was sent in response to a request by Laliberte to meet with Basting to discuss student concerns. The SA was also expected to take part in the discussion.
Flynn also discussed the benefits of increased police presence for the university, writing that the visible presence of officers, along with proactive education components, has reduced victimization of students.
“Since many students are new to urban challenges, we have emphasized both personal and residential safety, thereby preventing student related robberies and burglaries,” he wrote.