Student board gives feedback to Public Safety

Morgan Engels, News Editor

When John Flannery was named Madison College’s director of Public Safety in February of 2019, he brought with him a vision for a committee; one which would give students a voice on the many important issues his team is responsible for addressing. 

The Public Safety committee is made up primarily of students, along with a few staff members. It’s primary purpose is to allow the members to voice their thoughts and feelings on matters pertaining to the safety and security of the college. 

“It’s really an advisory committee for me,” Flannery said. “I get information from the college administration, I get information from my own staff, but what I really wanted was to focus on a student voice, to be able to say ‘when I come to Truax Campus, here’s what I think could be done better.’” 

Flannery, or Flann, as he insists on being called, spent 20 years working as a police officer for the city of Green Bay before going to work at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC). At NWTC, Flannery worked as an instructor in the criminal justice program and as an associate dean in their public safety program. 

While at NWTC, Flannery formed a committee to gather input from students on matters pertaining to their classes, course work and curriculum. According to Flannery, the committee brought about mostly small changes, but what he noted was the sense of satisfaction from the students when they felt they were being recognized. 

“It’s one thing to say ‘students come first,’ it’s another thing to actually bring them into the fold and actually make them feel it,” Flannery said. 

Flannery has since taken the lessons he learned at NWTC and applied them to his job at Madison College with the Public Safety committee. 

“It’s been great for me to feel like I have some input on the safety protocols here for students,” Brandy Richer said. 

Richer, who is currently in the human resources program, has been a part of the public safety committee since 2019. She recently completed the human services program; while she plans to transfer to Lakeland College in the spring to earn a degree in psychology, she is on track to graduate from Madison College in the spring. 

Katrina Willis completed the medical coding specialist program in May. She has also completed the medical administration specialist program and the healthcare management program. She is currently signed up for the human resources management program. She is preparing for her certification exam and plans to continue taking classes while she does so. 

With a significant portion of the committee having graduated or soon to graduate, there is a need to recruit new members. Willis has made a point of making herself available to the committee while they do so. 

Along with her involvement in the public safety committee Willis is a member of the Student Senate. She is also on two governance councils: the professional development council and the facilities planning and investment council.  

“It gives me the opportunity to go between faculty, staff and so on, and bring the perspective of a student to the table,” Willis said. “I can then take the issues and concerns they raise back to the student senate and make sure students’ voices are being heard.” 

When Madison College was forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everything the committee had been planning at that point had to be put on hold. Despite this they had still managed to organize a listening session on intimate partner violence and safety in relationships. They also arranged a station where students could meet and talk with representatives from UNIDOS, an organization that supports Latinx survivors of domestic violence and helps them access local services. 

Among the plans put on hold by the pandemic is a public safety general feedback listening session, which would be open to any and all students. They had also discussed setting up a program where students could volunteer to escort other students to their vehicles; as well as looking into crimes committed in the area, and sharing some of the information with the campus community. 

Despite the unprecedented challenge brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Flannery characterizes the public safety council as a success. Amongst the group there appears to be a consensus that what it needs most right now is a diverse set of fresh voices. 

“When we talk about diversity we are not just talking about race and ethnicity, we are talking about disability, LGBTQ and so forth,” Flannery said. “We are looking for diverse candidates from everywhere because there are so many voices and perspectives we need to hear.”