Off Campus Dialogue Food for Thought

By Ben Singer

The off-campus dialogue that featured the class of 2020 had a little bit of everything. The event brought together Greek life members, athletes, a campus journalist, curious students, Campus Safety officers, Colorado Springs Police Department officer, Residential Life Coordinators, and a punk-rock sound check blaring below. Unfortunately, the meeting, contentious at times, did not lead to much student satisfaction. I have a hunch as to why. First, some students were all too happy to project their third-week fatigue and impatience with the circumstances surrounding the dialogue during the introductions. While it was beyond reasonable to feel that way, it wasn’t helpful to cast that energy over the room. After establishing who the participants were, we learned a great deal about the operations of Campus Safety and disciplinary conduct from both perspectives. I now understand the dilemma on both sides.

On Sept. 25, seniors received an email that criticized the class for generating more complaints from the community than in “recent years.” Of course, that data is indisputable and makes sense for a number of reasons: changing demographics, an influx of families, new neighbors, etc. But the suggestion that this senior class is more reckless, rowdy, or disrespectful than previous ones is just not supportable. In fact, this class is one of the most academically inclined classes in the college’s history and is far more committed to inclusivity (though there is still a long way to go), safety, and acceptable conduct. Just read the several paragraph manifestos that come with many parties’ Facebook events. Does this make it any less irritating when young families are repeatedly woken by the sound of college students howling in the streets? Of course not. The recreational shrieking must stop.

But please, save the history lesson for, perhaps, the class of 1979, from which a student rented a Cesna plane and unleashed 1,000 frisbees on Tava Quad during that era’s version of Llamapalooza. Or what about in 1982 when the reidential advisor of 2 North in South Hall allowed a room to harbor a hot tub, which leaked to the floor below. Not convinced? Then take a stroll down Nevada Avenue where the timeless bartender at Murphy’s Tavern, Ronny, tells tales of students that used to organize puking contests in the streets. Trust me, the administration and Colorado Springs community need not fear the rampage of the class of 2020. Obviously, the intention of the email was not to compare this senior class to decades ago, but I reject the undertone regardless. My peers’ antics are absolutely noth- ing more (most likely less) odious than those of the upperclassmen who had established a precedent when we first arrived.

At the dialogue, students cringed when Campus Safety explained on some nights, they become unexpectedly overwhelmed with the influx of parties and incidents. Even if individual parties don’t commit infractions, it is well within reason for Campus Safety to use caution and quell large gatherings. This concept is no different than when an elementary school teacher enforces a period of silence on the entire class because of a few snot-nosed loud mouths. Security forces are pragmatically exercising their training when they put bedlam to bed. Campus Safety must feel relatively in the loop and in control to maintain a broad sense of safety in and around campus. For the cooperative kids in the play area of school or the party arena of college, there are many inevitable frustrations.

Campus Safety explained that when they respond to noise complaints, they give the complainer full power to decide whether or not officers shut down or quiet down a party. So the entire fate of a party rests on the impulsive decision of one delirious, irritable and uninformed person? Bummer. Maybe we can lobby for procedural changes on that front.

On the contrary, here is some food for thought for my fellow seniors regards our grievance that our class is getting screwed over by the changing rules and regulations. I would suggest that the school and the world are always changing. Quickly. Every senior class before us had self-pity about their bad luck of rising to their final year at the moment they did. Each class that succeeds us will do the same upon entering their last year of college. This feeling is a rite of passage, not an injustice. This also does not invalidate frustrations or detract from the potential unfairness of the plan RLC Luis Valdez explained at the meeting: the policy regarding unmandated social life is in fact at the end of a two-year transition phase. Stricter rules and more frequent crackdowns are upon us. Bummer again. However, over time, some of these changes are good. I’m curious how college students reacted as cigarettes became non-permissible indoors (in Palmer Hall, for example) or when seat belts became mandatory. Were these policies greeted with extended arms or with defensive fists in the air? Regardless, these changes are statistically keeping me and my peers alive. Some would argue it wasn’t worth the poor babies of previous generations feeling suffocated by higher safety standards. I understand the new rules are not as black and white as “safe or not safe,” but as young people, we know a thing or two about embracing positive change. Thirty years from now, a Colorado College student will be writing an opinion piece in The Catalyst about the hooligan days of the 2010s when students could openly drink on Yampa field. The point is, feeling oppressed by the changing times is not unique, and it comes with the territory of off-campus privileges.

In conclusion, increasing enforcement upon arrival in August was perhaps a creative way for the new Community Standards & Conduct Specialist, Joshua Isringhausen, to start his tenure at CC. I do hope he is keenly aware of the data that correlates stricter rules and the counterintuitive consequences they may have. Relatedly, Isringhausen’s job started the day it began. We must respect his prerogative and authority and recognize we only stand to gain by trusting he is looking forward to working with students on mutually beneficial conduct policy. Being angry will not help a new member of this community understand what makes it thrive. Just as the frisbee pilot eventually had to land and the 2 North hot tub was drained, it is now our turn to work with those who keep us safe. We must move forward and embrace the new and the different, with all that it has to offer, and all that cannot be replaced.

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