A break with reality
If you attended the city council meeting this past Monday, you could sense the palpable tension between the students and the residents there to address the mess that is the off-campus living situation south of the Loop. Both sides were respectful, and both made valid arguments. I understand the pain of, and sympathize with, the Ames place residents who have endured the obnoxious behavior of college students for years and years, but one thought kept crossing my mind. Washington University has been here for a long, long time. The Loop has been an epicenter of nightlife for St. Louis for quite a while. At what point do you buy a house in a neighborhood in between these two focal points of social activity and expect a quiet and peaceful existence? It would seem to me, and I don’t mean to be demeaning here, that the four or five blocks in between Wash. U. and the Loop would be an extremely noisy and disruptive area.
There are a couple of constants that we have to deal with when looking at this situation. College students will never be a dormant, quiet subset of the human race, and we don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Ames place residents will always want us to be that dormant, quiet subset, and I’m fairly sure they have no intention of selling their homes, packing up and leaving either. It seems we are at a crossroads. The first step is discussion, and I believe that proposed committee is a giant step in that direction, yet I am pessimistic that neither side will truly get what they want.
I believe there is an inherent disconnect in the discrepancy between reactions to the behavior of students on and off-campus. As an underclassman, drinking in your dorm is overlooked, almost encouraged. On campus, there are no consequences for noise, as students wander from their rooms to Frat Row or to other dorms. As we become juniors and seniors, our social nexus moves from campus, off-campus. The shift in scenery is due not only to a lack of housing on-campus, mostly for seniors, but if your friends are all located off-campus, chances are you are going to be socializing off-campus. With age comes responsibility, but it’s highly unreasonable to expect seniors, who have been drinking and shouting liberally on campus for three years, to suddenly switch their behavior as a consequence of their housing. Obviously upperclassmen want to be able to enjoy their last year, and what they have learned to enjoy is now not permissible just beyond the borders of campus, in an area that they are almost forced to live due to a lack of campus housing.
What I’m saying is controversial, and I’m being one-sided in my perception of the circumstances. But I’m a student, and we are all students. College is about academia, but who has ever heard that college isn’t “the best four years of your life?” I’d be hard pressed to find someone who thought that meant being so silent that girls can’t even wear high heels on their way to and from a bar or campus because they click too loudly. Compromises need to be made, and I know that students are willing to make them, but I also think that behind the tensions there are unreasonable expectations concerning the behavior of students.