Where the Personal becomes the Political at our whim...
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:: Monday, March 03, 2003 ::
A Return To In Loco Parentis Rules? It's not as radical as what colleges used to do, but I see a slow return that will hopefully stop soon.
It's Friday evening in this city of 78,000 that's home to the University of Alabama. On the tree-lined residential street where they live, university students Chris Smith, 22, and Jayson Perkinson, 21, are sipping bloody marys and expressing their extreme displeasure over a crackdown by the city.
''It's just one thing after another,'' says Perkinson, a public relations major from Pensacola, Fla., plopping down on a tan sofa on the front porch.
''It seems like they're trying to take away our freedoms, piece by piece,'' adds Smith, an advertising major from Savannah, Ga.
What has their ire up is a series of new City Council laws. Effective Saturday, the city banned the outdoor use of indoor furniture -- like their couch -- and reduced the operating hours of all-night bars. The city already prohibits more than three unrelated tenants in a house or apartment. It's also considering a ban on parking in front yards.
But Tuscaloosa, like dozens of other college communities across the nation, is adopting these laws in an effort to keep residential neighborhoods around campuses from becoming ''student ghettoes.''
As students flood surrounding residential areas, some families are moving out. Cities, often in concert with the schools themselves, are trying a variety of measures to get students to be better neighbors:
* Several college towns, including Michigan State University's home, East Lansing, and the University of North Carolina's Chapel Hill, limit the number of students who can live together in off-campus housing.
* In San Marcos, Texas, home of Southwest Texas State University, police cite motorists and landlords for noise coming from their cars and property.
* In Boston, building inspectors accompany police responding to complaints about loud parties. The inspectors check for safety, building and sanitary violations.
* Seattle limits off-campus land that the University of Washington can buy or lease for student housing.
* A University of Toledo police officer visits student homes that have prompted neighbors' complaints. The officer distributes a list of ''do's and don'ts'' and a brochure: How to be a Good Neighbor.
* The Philadelphia suburb of West Chester, where about 3,500 West Chester University students live, bans new student housing within 400 feet of other such housing. Last semester, West Chester Mayor Richard Yoder implemented Operation Vigilance. It aims to reduce underage and excessive drinking by imposing the maximum state penalty, such as loss of a driver's license, compared with previous consequences like community service.
The mayor says the program is working, but some residents say they've seen no change. Joseph Norley, a West Chester resident and president of a neighborhood watch group, says he and his South Walnut Street neighbors still are ''psychologically terrorized in their homes.''
The Harvard study was a major impetus for the crackdown on student drinking in Tuscaloosa, says Barry Mason, interim president of the University of Alabama, which was rated last year by the Princeton Review as one of the nation's top 10 party schools.
In response, the university began considering a series of ''Healthy Campus'' initiatives: mandatory on-campus housing for freshmen; mandatory class attendance for freshmen and sophomores; a ban on alcohol in residence halls; extended library hours; first-run movies shown all night on weekends in the student center. The latter two measures have been adopted.
The biggest reason I say that I see a return to in loco parentis type rules isn't so much for what is said in this article. It has more to do with the number of articles like this I've been having to copy at work for the higher up meetings here. As a residential college, I think we have reason to fear these kinds of moves. They can try to control every move if they want. Granted, the most strict rules we have (all about alcohol) were forced on us by big government and other students that were "offended" a few years ago when they saw a group of legally aged students drinking in a common space (the damn laundry room in the basement of the dorm).
:: Bitter 1:36 PM [+] ::