Councilman 'blew' this student's mind

As a student living in the Heights, I know all too well that there's more to the story

The Spectrum

In my three years at the University at Buffalo, I have had the opportunity to live, work and learn on both of the university’s primary campuses as well as in the surrounding communities. I’ve relocated to the Heights this year, after living in the dorms on North Campus as a freshman and in the Villas on Chestnut Ridge last year.

It’s no secret that there is a divide between the residential community members and the students renting homes in the Heights. For years, members of the Heights community have raised concerns about the parties.

Pressure has been placed on both the university as well as the Buffalo Police to take action to stop – or at least curb – the partying. Mickey Vertino, president of the University Heights Collaborative, would “like to see the buses slow down” in reference to the UB Stampede buses that provide transportation between North and South Campus, according to WIVB.

Vertino suggests that if the school does not readily provide transportation to and from South Campus, then fewer students will travel to the Heights to party. According to WIVB’s story, UB does not plan to stop busing at night. As students and faculty of this university, we need to make sure that this decision holds.

From a plainly academic standpoint, the only 24-hour library is located inside Capen Hall on North Campus. Cutting off buses would halt transportation for all students residing by South Campus that need to get to the library and prevent students who stay in the library late from taking the bus home.

And stopping the buses will not prevent UB students from partying; it will simply limit their safe options and encourage drunk driving.

We are one of the largest research universities in the country. We are supposed to be innovative and progressive – not shortsighted and regressive. It is our responsibility to ensure the continued safety of our students in ways that the university can control – chiefly by guaranteeing that the university does not stop or limit the Stampede transportation.

Not only that, but the university and local police should do more about student safety on South Campus.

Although noise complaints, open alcohol container citations and underage drinking are all relevant complaints – complaints that have attracted the attention of Common Council Member Rasheed Wyatt and WIVB 4 News – my concern and the concern of many students residing in the neighborhood is the mismatch between stopping these “crimes” associated with partying and actually stopping crimes that ensure the safety of all of the residents in the Heights.

I went out this past weekend and dare I admit it in print – partied in the Heights. The police broke up nearly every party that I attended or saw. Many cop cars were following groups of students walking down the street to their parties so they could break them up in anticipation of neighborhood complaints. In fact, one party that I was headed to was broken up before it had even started – the Buffalo Police were clearly intent on efficient response.

In contrast, when my home on West Winspear was broken into two weeks ago in the middle of the day, it took the police almost an hour to arrive at my house.

The Heights community is fighting the wrong battle. Just blocks away from these “belligerent” partygoers are legitimate criminals. Perhaps the reason that the streets are rampant with herds of students is because we do not feel safe to walk down these streets alone.

The armed burglaries and drug deals gone awry seldom make the headlines, but underage drinking and partying do. And though students definitely bring noise and litter to the community with their parties, we also contribute to the local economy by eating at nearby restaurants and shopping at local stores. Students who live in the Heights are residents of the neighborhood too, just like their more permanent neighbors. Regardless of our age or status, we matter too.

But it’s also true that students living or partying in the Heights need to do their part, and address the problems they create when attending parties. Littering on residents’ lawns and in the streets needs to end and neighborhood cleanups by teams comprised of students and year-round residents would help our streets get clean and stay clean. Additionally, garbage and recycle receptacles should be put on every corner – providing a convenient alternative to littering.

Most importantly, an open line of communication between the established University Heights residents and the students is crucial to making strides toward improvement. Students need to be respectful and conscious of their neighbors’ needs, but they also deserve the opportunity to express their own opinions. That requires that both sides communicate with each other – although it’s silly that there are “sides” at all.

We need to come together with the community to keep it safe and clean – but that cannot and will not happen until the focus shifts from college students partying in their homes to the real crime and danger that lurks from the outskirts of our community.

Talia Schwartz is a junior psychology major.