Colgate Students Should Show The Hamilton Community Some Respect

Denis kinnally

The September 24, 2004 issue of The Maroon-News shed light on a major problem facing Colgate Students, Colgate administrators and Hamilton residents. The downtown residents on Pine Street, Maple Street and Lebanon Street are all frustrated with the vandalism and noise pollution of Colgate students and rightfully so. However, I don’t think the root of the problem is as one-sided as the article reported. I was shocked that there was no input from off-campus residents in the article, leaving a major side of the story unexplored. Perhaps the biggest problem that jumped out at me is the fact that so many parties are occurring off-campus this year. I can’t remember so many events taking place away from Broad St. since arriving at Colgate in 2001. Therefore, I ask whether or not one of the catalysts for this reason is the recent implementation of the Broad Street Initiative. The entire Colgate Community needs to figure out how we can reestablish solid Town/Gown relations. This is not just a problem for students living off-campus. Hamilton residents are frustrated at Colgate students because trash cans are turned over, beer cans are thrown on front lawns, students are urinating on lawns and students are too loud. These complaints are very legitimate and problematic for the Colgate Community. I am ashamed that Colgate students would treat private property with such disrespect. Colgate is not a breeding ground for such pathetic behavior, and it should be noted that the majority of the campus does not behave in such a juvenile manner. These students need to realize that the entire student body is being held accountable for such shameful behavior. We live in a great community, with local residents who – when given the respect they deserve – are more than welcoming to the student body. However, we cannot fully blame the student body for the recent influx of problems. As a senior, it bothers me that Dean of the College Adam Weinberg and local officials are blind to one of the major roots of the problem. The fact of the matter is that there are not enough social options and alternatives for the student body. The Palace Theater, despite the generous donations from Colgate parents and Alumni, is not frequented by Colgate students, and frankly, it’s not an attractive option for many students. The students who are creating the problems downtown have nowhere to turn on Broad St. for social options, so they are forced to inundate the off-campus residences at the first hint of a party. Whether the administration and Board of Trustees likes it or not, the implementation of the Broad Street Initiative has weakened Broad Street. When I was a first-year, I remember coming down the hill and having at least two or three fraternities open to the campus community. Now, the chances of walking into a fraternity house on a whim is a thing of the past. Most nights the houses on Broad St. are quiet, except for the rare occasion when there is a “catered” party. As of today, there have only been two “catered” parties since the first day of school. With the failure of the Palace and the decline of fraternity and theme house parties, an extra burden is unfairly placed on off-campus students. These students are given the unnecessary task of dealing with the overflow of underclassmen who do not have viable social options available to them on a regular basis. Many off-campus residents complain that the Colgate Cruiser frequently drops off already drunk underclassmen at or near their houses. This creates a problem for the off-campus residents. The underclassmen want to come into the parties, which are already too crowded. When turned away, the students are forced to walk downtown, playing a role in the destructive behavior enumerated in last week’s article. However, I am not na??ve to think that only underclassmen are to blame for the problems.Overall, Colgate students need to take responsibility for their actions and realize they are part of the Hamilton Community. When walking down any street, students shouldn’t be tempted to desecrate private property, flip over trash cans or carry on loud and obnoxious conversations. While the Board of Trustees and administration gloat over the implementation of the Broad Street Initiative, they have to understand that these new initiatives are placing the center of a vibrant social scene farther away from Broad Street and putting more pressure on off-campus residents to handle the repercussions. My love for Colgate stems from the friendships I’ve made, our beautiful campus and the good relations the students have with the Hamilton residents. It is shameful that students would desecrate private property; it is also shameful that the downtown residents are the scapegoats for policies implemented by the administration. The University needs to realize that the problems downtown are not solely the fault of the seniors having more parties off-campus. Rather, they are a by-product of tighter restrictions the administration has placed on both Greek organizations and theme houses alike.