The glass will
always be half full for some and half empty for others.
Certainly for the last year round resident on Green
Lane, the glass feels empty in the face of continuing
bad behavior from student neighbors. In Mark
Schieldrop's June 15 article (Residents say students
rowdier than URI admits, Independent, June 15), this
resident's experience is used as a glaring contradiction
refuting reports of improvements. The fact that it is so
glaring indicates that such awful situations are
beginning to be the exception to the rule.
government doesn't hand out money to sloppy researchers.
The facts and figures are not being "twisted" to
anyone's advantage. By any and all measures, the myriad
initiatives undertaken by the Narragansett-URI Coalition
in the last five years and by URI's Common Ground NIAAA/NIH
grant in the last three years, have improved students'
off campus conduct and have helped to build a community
of mutual respect.
Why must some insist that things are getting worse?
Those with current negative experiences with student
renters deserve all the sympathy and support and action
the community and the University can bring to bear.
There are some residents with scars left by bad
experiences they or their friends have suffered in years
past that are simply unwilling to let go of their anger.
There are some who fear that acknowledging progress will
diminish focus and action on an ongoing problem.
While the University builds additional campus housing as
fast as state approval and financing will allow, there
will always be a student presence in Narragansett. Young
people share residents' enthusiasm for the town's
seaside beauty and, as college students everywhere, they
are eager to stretch their wings in a less monitored
environment. There is too much profit in seasonal
rentals. There are no zoning laws or neighborhood
association rules that limit the number of rental units
in any given neighborhood. So, depending on luck or
economics, a permanent resident may be in the company of
a few or a few too many students.
No one believes the problem is solved, no one claims we
can relax our efforts. Every year new students move into
Narragansett and, without vigilance, things can get
worse just as they can get better.
However, it is imperative to talk about improvements, to
chronicle progress. Students need to know that their
activities are being measured and that positive change
is being celebrated just as negative change would be
condemned. It is imperative to publicly applaud progress
towards high standards. Can we create a better future if
we can't cultivate a belief that one is possible?
Dean of Students,
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Rhode Island
Common Ground Administrative Grant