Fraternally Speaking to the Administration, and to the Community…

Things aren’t going well. We haven’t been the neighbors that we need to be for each other for a long time.  It’s pretty evident that we don’t trust one another, but at least we’re taking steps to (maybe someday) remedy that.

Yes, we are angry with each other. But that’s not what is important right now. We need to try to put emotions and preconceptions of each other aside, even for just a small time, and realize that what is important is that we take the chance to listen to each other now before things get worse, simply because they went without discussion and subsequent resolution. That is what brothers are supposed to do for each other, and this should not be any different from what we as neighbors are supposed to do for each other.

Thankfully, the Campus 411 that took place at noon in the Forum last Wednesday, March 28 was a step in the right direction, though we as students will have to wait until April 9 before we can formally represent ourselves in the presence of the Westminster Common Council, since their last meeting took place during spring break. A surprisingly large number of students were present at the 411, and many took their chance to voice their frustrations with their egregious lack of representation and, among other things, address concerns of the college administration’s paying Westminster police overtime to “specifically target disorderly houses” off-campus.

Mike Webster, Director of Campus Safety, responded that the college had received a grant from “the Carroll County Public Health Department…[and that] the money is used to monitor alcohol abuse in the community, monitor events like Spring Fling, and of course underage drinking especially.”

“That’s the grant money,” President Casey immediately affirmed when asked of the college’s money being used to fund Westminster Police overtime by a student from the crowd. “I want to debunk the notion that the dominant view of non-student residents is a negative one,” he added.

Senior Ben Mattox suggested to the Deans and faculty present that there be more college approved student get-togethers on-campus that would allow for students to unwind on the weekends.

These get-togethers could be monitored and controlled by campus police if necessary, as this “would be a much better option for students who want to avoid getting arrested and, among other things, put their future career aspirations in check.”

“These patrols will not arrest whoever is on the street,” responded Dean Gerl. “This is about getting things to stop before it gets any worse.”

But some students are saying that the college administration should not be taking such a patronizing tone with its students.

Speaking of the 411, senior Andy Heimann responded: “I want you to look at me as an adult. If we were given a fair atmosphere on campus, people would accept their punishments, and maybe things would be different, but right now we’re a marginalized, voiceless population. Too often the college feels like they’re my third parent.”

Still other students felt that the Campus 411 was a complete failure in open discussion. “I don’t think either side is looking for a compromise,” said senior Jacob Gettelman. “People pretend about coming together, and at some point that has to stop. The meeting [the 411] wasn’t a discussion, it was just people repeating things.”

Mattox, Heimann, and Gettelman were all targeted by police because of the recent noise complaints filed against their property.

As a member of a fraternity at McDaniel who is willing to lend an ear to the members of the Westminster community, and who shares frustrations that many students have with the responses of the Wesminster community and the McDaniel administration to “excessive partying”, here’s my take on things.

First of all, the main thing that we as students need to remember is this: members of the college administration are only human. As such, priorities have to be established before any changes can be made, and if we bombard the Deans, campus safety, and President Casey with every Twitter hashtag-worthy McDaniel problem that comes to mind, we’re only playing into the perspective that we don’t deserve to be treated as adults, because all we want to do is complain, and let the ‘real adults’ solve all of our problems for us.

The college administration needs to recognize that, while they can be held liable for alcohol-related incidents as a result of parties getting out of hand, and/or those involving underage drinking, fostering an environment of paranoia on-campus through strict punishments for even just possession of alcohol (even for those who are 21 and over) is not solving anything. If anything, it creates more problems. College students are going to drink, and if that means moving off-campus to do it, that’s what they’ll do, and after that, we get more angry members of the Westminster community.

At the same time, students need to recognize that we are a part, if not the largest part, of the underage drinking conundrum. Drinking is good, but thinking is better.

Yes, that sounds exactly like what someone over in Winslow Center will tell you, but before we resign ourselves to some stubborn, repetitive, ‘suck-it-McDaniel’ attitude, we need to realize that the college isn’t some wrathful, all-powerful deity that decides our fate—we do. We’re adults. And adults play the game to change the game.

Politics surrounds everything (i.e. the college trying to play it nice-nice with the city with overtime money and street signs). If both the students and administration said exactly what was on our minds, we would always be this angry and accusing each other of whatever we could think of—even things that we know may or may not be true.

It’s time to calm down, be civil, recognize our own weaknesses as human beings, and then try to move past them so we can talk about how everyone can work together to make compromises, because that should never be a word looked down upon.

I’ll be at the next Carroll County Common Council meeting on April 9th. Fellow students, please join me, if you’ve got the time.

1 Comment on "Fraternally Speaking to the Administration, and to the Community…"

  1. What the school needs to do is understand that drinking will happen no matter what and that they need to take a step into making this campus a safer place. A place where the college students feel they are not under the eye of the Gestapo. The reason students feel as if nothing was done at the 411 is because the administration lied to the students, specifically Mike Webster, and they had no real answers or confidence in themselves or the student population to be able to make a change. All good ideas that were stated, were noted by Dr. Casey, however due to the previous track record the administration has with the students, we as students KNOW nothing will be done about the issue or changes will be made to make it worse. For example, we as students “complain” about not being safe on campus and the weekend after the 411 CAMPUS SAFETY, an organization that is supposed to be here for the students, has changed their policy so they do not offer students rides back to their residence halls if they are on campus and feel unsafe. It is specific reasons such as these that students do not trust the administration or this school.
    If you want to look at what the school cares about you will find that it is not students, it is MONEY. The school struggles with financial issues every year, and every year our tuition raises. The reason is not the economy or bad investments, the reason are very few alumni give back to the school. We have an 80 million dollar endowment and it is struggling to get larger, this is because the students are not proud of their Alma Mater, they are frustrated and annoyed about how they were treated during their four years here. I will not give back to this school for this specific reason, I feel as though I was treated like a child or something worse, a public enemy for wanting to drink and socialize. The administration needs to understand, if they want to be able to grow and continue living as a college, they NEED to allow the students to have a good time and create an environment the students like and are proud to call their college. If the administration still believes they can change the student body and stop the underage drinking, they will never move forward and eventually die as an institution. This college boasts about its liberal arts education and how they want us to think outside of the box and be our own individual person. This is impossible if the administration does not even act that way themselves, I have never seen a group of people who are so stubborn and have no regard to they people they are supposed to care about. All I can say is what I believe the entire student population believes and that is that as an ADMINSTRATION of McDaniel College, YOU and YOU alone have FAILED the student population. This will be the most apparent when you see that your alumni classes give less and less, and the percentage that does give is also dropping. I feel bad that the college will not give this issue a real chance and that they will figure out what is right by the time it is too late.

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