Letter to the Editor: Big Event neglected our neighborhood
March 25, 2017 was the Big Event which, as you know, is a major community service day at the university. It is my understanding that, in theory, this event aims to get students to assist in improving their personal living environments. Apparently, this year’s gathering boasted approximately 1,500 volunteers.
When contacted, we requested a mere 16 volunteers. During a series of email correspondence with Mattie, an organizer from the Big Event, we asked that these volunteers meet at 1622 Roosevelt between 11 and 11:30 on Saturday morning. I was the neighborhood contact on site to give instructions and assign tasks. In addition to the Big Event volunteers, I organized a number of homeowners and had them meet there to help as well. In appreciation of the students’ contribution of time and energy, we put together a potluck luncheon at the meeting point. No students appeared at the scheduled time.
Sometime later, we received a voicemail advising that the student volunteers would be there around noon. Not one student ever put in an appearance. The Big Event was initially formed to act as a social liaison between students and residents in their respective neighborhoods. Unfortunately, this original concept seems to have gone by the wayside.
As a neighborhood, we host an annual cleanup, which is comprised primarily of homeowners and St. Francis high school students. Although flyers are hand-delivered door-to-door well in advance, no college students ever attend.
Of course, we realize waking up early on Saturday morning to walk around picking up greasy fast food bags, red Solo Cups, used condoms and broken beer bottles isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. And we are well aware that the college students in our neighborhood are there primarily to “enjoy the college experience.” However, littering and property damage seems to blur that line of enjoyment for ALL parties involved.
The university wonders why residents might harbor a certain resentment toward students in general and the college in particular. We are, arguably, the most negatively affected by the students and the university — but the last to be considered for cleanup events or involvement in neighborhood civic planning.
A little “give back” by the college students would go a long way in fostering a more harmonious environment for all involved. After all, those are not our used condoms, red Solo Cups and broken beer bottles littering the streets of our neighborhood.
Resident of the Bancroft Hills Neighborhood