By Chris Ramos
Texas A&M-San Antonio hosted numerous guest speakers this semester, offering the kind of community outreach that helps students make connections beyond the classroom.
District 7 Councilman Justin Rodriquez, State Representative Joaquin Castro, Brian Collister, investigative reporter for WOAI, and most recently, Chief William McManus of the San Antonio Police Department, and many others, spoke to our diverse student body.
Sponsoring faculty and student club should be commended for bringing guests to A&M-San Antonio and welcoming them to our community. Time taken to connect to the city at large shows students the hard work being done in the greater San Antonio community.
Take crime and safety, for example.
On April 9, over 50 students, faculty and staff came to listen to San Antonio Police Chief William McManus in the courtyard of Main Campus Building presented by the School of Arts and Sciences’ criminology program.
Chief McManus, San Antonio’s chief of police for the last six years, started his law enforcement career in 1975 with the Washington D.C. Metro Police Department. Prior to coming to San Antonio, he was police chief in Minneapolis, MN, and Dayton, Ohio.
McManus said there are two ways to serve as police chief — as an enforcer or a proactive department, which involves sweeping hotspots and encouraging community involvement.
The interactive forum allowed the chief and audience to exchange questions. Feeling safe in the community was a reoccurring theme during the discussion.
Standing outside during an unusually hot afternoon, McManus asked the audience whether they feel safe in San Antonio.
Education junior Paulette Johnson, who lives southeast of the city in Elmendorf, said that she does not, adding that when she commutes into the city she fears that crime rates are higher inside San Antonio’s city limits.
During his presentation, McManus described community efforts, including programs such as the Eastside Neighborhood Initiative, which resulted in a decrease in violent crimes and property crime and an increase in drug arrests and prostitution charges.
SAPD worked with city officials, code compliance, Department of Public Works, and Animal Care Services to improve the quality of life on the Eastside’s District 2.
According to a memo from the city of San Antonio from Feb 16, 2011, on the Eastside Neighborhood Initiatives:
- District 2 violent crimes are down 16.33 percent including a 21.05 percent decrease in murder
- District 2 property crimes are down 9.56 percent
- 1,525 drug arrest have been made which is increase of 9.79 percent from the previous years
Criminology senior Adam Mendoza said that he enjoyed that McManus asked how safe we feel and that he gave statistics. “Learning the material in class and hearing how it is applied in real world setting make going to this events valuable. I just think professors should give time to attend.”
McManus’ visit, and other city leaders, remind students on our developing campus that we are not isolated. And, it’s not too early to start planning fall speakers.
As the semester comes to a close, remember to be a part of the conversation. Make time to to visit with our guest speakers and let them know that the South Side is a growing part of the city and its achievements.