CHICAGO – Amid growing concerns about violence near the University of Chicago, campus leaders held a meeting aimed at solving the complicated issues on Tuesday.

Violent crime is a reoccurrence across the city. Last week, a university police officer shot an armed man having a mental health episode. The shooting comes after three University of Chicago students were killed in 2021, prompting university leaders to unite community groups and discuss resolutions. In November, 24-year-old Dennis Zheng, a recent graduate of the University of Chicago master’s program in statistics, was shot and killed during a robbery near the Hyde Park campus.

“The pain that we have experienced at their loss is what is felt on a daily basis by far too many communities on the South and West sides of the city,” said University of Chicago president Paul Alivisatos.

Alivisatos wants to continue to gather community partners to discuss violence prevention.

Beset by gun violence, University of Chicago leaders hosted a community discussion on crime prevention Tuesday, Jan. 25.

“A lot of people look at it and say, ‘why is there so much violence?’ But they don’t really look at the history of it and I think when you think about it, there has to be investment,” said Pastor Chris Harris with Bright Star Community Church.

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton took part in the conversation.

“We need to recognize that it is the conditions they have inherited that perpetuate violence,” she said. “We have to look at the decades of harm done by the war on drugs, mass incarceration and disinvestment because justice is more than police, jails and prisons.”

It’s something that former senior advisor to former President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, said requires long-term investment.

“The whole goal is to make sure that every young person grows up with opportunity so that all of our children can flourish and that begins at a very early age,” Jarrett said.

While dialogue won’t immediately solve the issues plaguing the community, the South Side university vowed to keep working with the city and neighbors to uncover solutions.