If “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” then SUNY Brockport’s Saturday Day of Service is definitely a step in the right direction.
You have to give credit where credit is due. After years of complaints from village residents about obnoxious student behavior, the college administration finally did something to inform SUNY Brockport students that certain behavior is unacceptable.
Earlier this year SUNY Brockport’s Office of Student Conduct, created an "Off Campus Relations Team to develop short and long term strategies to enhance the off-campus living experience of students, and to assess the needs and interests of the off-campus relations.”
According to the Enrollment Management & Student Affairs Annual Report, the Off Campus Relations Team is comprised of the Student Conduct Coordinator, Community Development Coordinator, Chief of University Police, Chief of Brockport Police Department, Prevention Outreach Services, Counseling Center, BSG Off Campus student reps, community landlord, Brockport Zoning Officer and Village of Brockport Board of Trustee member.
Unfortunately, the 2013 Saturday Day of Service was sandwiched between a rowdy Friday night that extended into the wee hours of Saturday morning, and a Sunday morning when one Brockport resident found that the college students who had just moved in next door had thrown their garbage over the fence into the home owner’s back yard.
This was move-in weekend for returning SUNY Brockport students and Friday night was another one of those weekend nights in Brockport when it was hard to sleep because of the loud, foul-mouthed SUNY Brockport students walking through the village talking at the top of their lungs, yelling and shouting, until 3 or 4 in the morning.
The problem is that there is simply no leadership at either the village or the college level.
SUNY Brockport President John Halstead seems to be absolutely clueless about how to spend the taxpayers’ dollars to improve the quality of the education provided by SUNY Brockport.
As it was pointed out in this column almost a year ago
The college administration just spent $44 million dollars on a new Special Events Recreation Center, and college President John Halstead said that, “SERC is a game-changer for our college.”
Halstead did not say how spending $44 million on a recreation center, instead of spending money on classrooms or dormitories, will change SUNY Brockport’s mediocre ranking in the prestigious Best Colleges Rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
SUNY Brockport is ranked 68th in the Regional Universities North category. SUNY Brockport has a reputation of being a “party school” and President Halstead either doesn’t realize that or doesn’t care. But the Off Campus Relations Team is a step in the right direction
At the village level, leadership is also woefully inadequate. The article about the Saturday Day of Service in this morning’s Democrat & Chronicle highlights the lack of leadership in the village.
The article takes a very upbeat approach to the Saturday Day of Service, and reports what new Brockport Mayor Margay Blackman had to say about one the problems cause by SUNY students living off-campus.
“Most other complaints deal with noise, said Blackman, who recalled hearing young people outside her own house about midnight on Saturday.”
But the D&C reporter never followed up by asking Blackman the question that needed to be asked.
Did Blackman call the police about the loud noise outside her own house about midnight on Saturday?
The answer is obviously no.
She just shrugged her shoulders and put up with it, like virtually every other village resident.
But for the Mayor to turn away like that is disgraceful. The Police Chief works directly for Mayor Blackman, and Chief Varrenti is the one Brockport employee who has shown true leadership on this kind of issue.
Like most village residents, Blackman may have thought that the Brockport Police have limited resources and had more important things to worry about on Friday night and Saturday morning than obnoxious behavior by college students.
It seems logical, but it isn’t.
True, it’s more important for the police to stop an intoxicated driver and prevent a fatal automobile accident, and it’s more important for the police to have a strong presence uptown to prevent or break up any fights outside the bars.
But with proper planning and leadership, the Brockport Police can have the resources they need on hand to do both - keep the streets safe and keep the village streets quiet.
Proper Planning Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance
Chief Daniel Varrenti does a great job, as long the politicians don’t tie his hands.
Move-in Weekend come every year. We know what date is going to be each year, and we know that during every Move-In Weekend in memory the returning students have been loud and rowdy.
Not planning to prevent that from happening again is just bad leadership.
The new mayor could have called the Police Chief into her office and asked him what he needed to ensure that he had adequate forces on the street to keep the streets both safe and quiet.
Chief Varrenti would have told her exactly what needed to be done to get the most Brockport Police officers on the street that night.
Blackman could have told Chief Varrenti to do what it takes to keep the village safe and quiet - issue tickets if you have to, make arrests if you have to.
If the authorities let the returning students know right from the get go that loud, rowdy, and obnoxious behavior will not be tolerated, then the students will get the point right away and their behavior will improve.
If the police stop the rowdy students as they walk down the street and issue them a ticket for disturbing the peace, the yelling, screaming and hollering at all of hours of the night will stop pretty quickly.
Unfortunately, the students now feel that if they can act like idiots on Move-in Weekend, they can act like idiots on every other weekend throughout the school year. That just complicates the problem.
But that doesn’t mean that village and college officials should just ignore the problem.
“A setback is a setup for a comeback”
When you fumble the ball or miss a tackle, you go back to the huddle; apologize to your teammates, and you tell them you’ll do better next time. That’s what village and college leaders have to do now.
Currently, the only effective way that the Office of Student Conduct finds out about who the rowdy students are is by looking at which students were arrested or issued tickets.
If the police don’t issue tickets for illegal conduct, the illegal conduct won’t stop, and the Office of Student Conduct won’t be able to help bring the situation under control.
The incident outside Mayor Blackman’s house on Friday night/Saturday morning, and the incident with the trash thrown over the fence this morning are exactly the kind of incidents that fall through the cracks in the Office of Student Conduct reporting system.
But yesterday, Anna Barone, one of the two Student Conduct Coordinators in the Office of Student Conduct, said that people can also file a report online about obnoxious student behavior.
If village residents don't notify the Office of Student Conduct about obnoxious student behavior, then the staff at the Office of Student Conduct never hears about it because there was no arrest made.
As most village residents know, more times than not incidents involving vandalism and other senseless acts by SUNY Students do not end in an arrest.
Here’s all you have to do to submit a report to the Office of Student Conduct about any incident involving SUNY Brockport students that happens off campus.
- Go to the Office of Student Conduct webpage at : http://www.brockport.edu/studentconduct/
- At the left hand side of the page, click on Report an Incident
- Then click on General Use to open Incident Reporting Form
- Fill in the Incident Reporting Form
- Click on the Submit Report button at the bottom of the online form
- Wait until the confirmation number appears on the screen.
We can do better. All we have to do is try.