University Heights Collaborative members and student representatives discuss late-night busing
Community members angry about disorderly student behavior, students concerned about safety
Molly Poremski can finally sleep through the night without fear of having her fence torn down or a rock thrown in her window.
Poremski, a digital collections librarian at UB and the secretary of the University Heights Collaborative neighborhood group, was one of 30 neighborhood residents who gathered at the Gloria Parks Community Center on Thursday evening to discuss recent changes to UB’s late-night busing schedule with student representatives.
Starting this semester, the UB Stampede no longer offers service from North Campus residence halls to South Campus after 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The last bus from the academic area on North Campus to South Campus is at 2 a.m. on those days.
The object of the meeting was to “start a conversation” about the busing changes, according to Mike Brown, the Student Association assembly speaker and the UB Council student representative. SA President Leslie Veloz, MBA student Mark Wilson, Interim Graduate Student Association President Jennifer Schechter and senior accounting and finance major Nsama Nkolonganya also participated in the meeting.
Brown, a junior political science and computer science major, feels improving the quality of life for residents in University Heights at night is important. But he is also concerned about the safety of students who need late-night weekend transportation. He wants to find a compromise that meets both students’ and community members’ needs.
Brown said students – particularly first-year students who likely are not familiar with the area – often roam University Heights late at night in search of parties. He feels these students could be targets of crime, given the multiple armed robberies that occurred in the neighborhood last year.
He also pointed out students who work at Campus Dining and Shops facilities that are open as late as 3 a.m. on weekend nights need transportation from North to South Campus. Many South Campus residents also study at the 24-hour Silverman Library late into the night on Friday and Saturday evenings because there is not a 24-hour library on South Campus.
While some community members felt it “implausible” that students would need to study that late on weekend nights, the students explained they often have to contend with loud roommates and other distractions in their residences so they need to go to the library in order to focus. Many students work in addition to taking full-time course loads and sometimes weekend nights are the only time they have to study, Veloz, a senior English and psychology major, pointed out.
University Heights resident Ellen Dragos proposed petitioning for a 24-hour library on South Campus as a potential solution to this problem.
However, the University Heights residents remained firm in their position that they were happy with the elimination of late-night weekend busing.
“You’re asking us to change something that’s working,” Poremski said. “You say you want a compromise, but how are you going to stop kids screaming at me? [How] are you going to make it better so I can sleep at night?”
University Heights residents are “sick” of having their homes vandalized and their properties “trashed” by partying students. Following the bus schedule change, residents report parties have “diminished significantly” and unruly student behavior has gone down along with it.
“Not having 200 students dropped off on our neighborhood in the evening, turning it into Bourbon Street, is also helping,” Poremski said.
The residents were visibly angry and defensive about the prospect of bringing back 24-hour busing on Fridays and Saturdays for fear it would lead to more vandalism, violence and disruption.
“I definitely recognize their concerns and it's quite reasonable that many residents had strong vocal opposition if they believe that bringing back the buses will bring back chaos,” Brown said.
He feels this is an issue that cannot be solved in one meeting.
“I had good conversations with some of the residents and University Heights Collaborative members afterwards and they expressed how they do see where I'm coming from, so I think smaller personal conversations are far better for both sides to understand each other,” Brown said.
Brown remains hopeful that a compromise between students and University Heights residents can be reached.
“I think that there is a solution that can be worked out, but it's something that we as students have to remain committed to,” Brown said.
Maddy Fowler is the assistant features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.