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.