Former residence to be used by SWU Criminal Justice program
Taking an existing house on campus and developing it into a new facility will advance the education of criminal justice majors at Southern Wesleyan University to new levels.
The house, which was previously the residence of Rev. Willett Vess and subsequently used by the university to store old furniture, will contain classrooms, lab space, crime scene space and a pistol range for practicing with guns that shoot pellets or BBs.
“Having dedicated lab space allows me to be more efficient and to be more creative,” said James McDonald, coordinator of Southern Wesleyan’s Criminal Justice program. McDonald, a former director of Greenville County’s crime laboratory, noted an example of students in a forensic science class being able to take what they learn from a lecture right into a lab permanently set up for fingerprinting or a realistic crime scene to investigate.
“I can actually take it to the next level where there’s more demonstration and more hands-on,” McDonald said. “I’m not having to go somewhere else to do something – it’s all right there. There are buildings outside, so we can actually have some sheltered crime scenes. We can have a crime scene just in the yard. There is a ton of work to do, but I’m really excited and hopeful that we can do it safely.”
The property surrounding the house is spacious enough for use as a fitness course McDonald hopes to set up. Currently, there is a portable course that can be set up on a surface such as a playing field. One of the goals is to set up a more permanent course, making possible easier access and more frequent fitness training and testing to meet fitness requirements for various law enforcement agencies.
During the university’s Day of Service March 17, a group of Southern Wesleyan students worked on the first steps of repurposing the residence – tearing out old carpet, scrubbing cabinets and walls, and cleaning the surrounding property of brush, debris and old fencing.
In addition to using the new facility for majors, McDonald noted that the house would be used for meetings of the recently-created criminal justice club and other student organizations within the university’s Social Sciences Division, such as human services and psychology.
Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, go online to swu.edu.