Online June 21, 2006

Opinion Headlines

LETTER: Common Ground is working


I was very disappointed to read the very one-sided story in your June 15, 2006 edition, “Residents say students rowdier than URI admits.” Where is the other side of the story? Where are the comments from Common Ground? The only quote from Dean Fran Cohen stems from a previous interview, not in response to the disgruntled few that were interviewed for the story.

I am employed part time as the Community Liaison as part of the implementation of the NIAAA grant and have worked in the community in the field of substance abuse for more than eight years. I’ve lived in the community and care deeply about the quality of life in Narragansett. All of the professionals that I collaborate with as part of my work on this grant have a deep-seeded interest in addressing what research has found to be effective and attempting to implement those strategies in the community. No one that I work with at URI is “trying to justify its existence.” At a meeting just yesterday, [Narragansett Police] Chief David Smith presented data that indicates a 16 percent decrease in driving under the influence comparing Sept. 1, 2004 to June 15, 2005, with Sept. 1, 2005 to June 15, 2006. Those are facts, not opinion.

The issue at hand is the quality of life in some of the more student-populated neighborhoods in Narragansett. The people that live in these neighborhoods have a real and honest gripe with some of their student neighbors. URI has recently augmented their disciplinary jurisdiction to include students who live off campus who incur certain misdemeanors and felonies. That change was a direct result of some savvy research by some of the individuals quoted in the aforementioned article.

What more can the university do to “take more accountability and hold students responsible for their actions off campus”? It has been my humble opinion that the Narragansett Housing Coalition would be the forum for suggestions, but it seems that whatever the University does, it is never enough, progress is not acknowledged. The new policy of placing red stickers on doors of homes that have been identified as party houses by the Narragansett Police has decreased recidivism, but there continues to be problems in certain neighborhoods. I think the University of Rhode Island has been very proactive about addressing its obligations to the host community for its off-campus students.

The small number of students that exhibit poor or even illegal behavior muddy the reputations of the majority of wonderful students that add to the fabric of this community, not to mention the economic contributions that the community derives from the students’ presence. When will we get beyond finger pointing and complaining and begin to recognize the strides that have been made? And yes, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.

Nancy Devaney

Coordinator, Narragansett Youth Task Force


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