Letter to the editor: ‘us vs. them’

By , Elaine Weber Nelson  |  Sunday, September 18, 2011 8:46 PM


Dear St. Thomas Students,

Once again, it’s the season to begin “us vs. them” conversations about St. Thomas students and the neighbors. Really, give the divisiveness in our larger world, why is this such a surprise? I think we’d all be better off if we tried harder to understand each other, rather than get caught up in the rant of hate. From the letters on tommiemedia, it appears that students think neighbors are unfriendly toward them and have unreasonable expectations. The key issues from this neighbor’s perspective are these: parking, garbage and loudness.


Perhaps you don’t know that St. Paul has a 24 hour legal limit on the amount of time allowed on a city street. So you are allowed to come and go (and find somewhere to leave your car) during your classes. Any neighbor who doesn’t like it can pay for those permits the city is happy to sell. But you aren’t allowed to use these streets as your personal parking lot. Aside from being rude, it is illegal. We realized that parking at the St. Thomas lots is ridiculously expensive, but that does not give you the right to use our street, blocking access to our homes, as a place to leave your car for days and days on end.


This a safe neighborhood, in large part due to neighbors like us who chose to live here. Yes, we knew a college was down the street when we moved in. Some of us went to that college. We just never realized how disrespectful so many of the students were. If we had known, perhaps we wouldn’t have bought these homes. Don’t toss your empty beer bottles, McDonald’s food containers, or plastic party cups in our yards.


You have a right to walk these streets. No one is denying you that. But when you walk them after midnight, could you please be a little quieter? We – and our children – are probably asleep. You yelling swear words at each other, talking loudly on your phones, slamming your car doors are all your right – but is that really necessary?

Please ask yourself the next time you leave your car here, toss your beer bottles in our gardens, or hold loud conversations on your cell phone at 2 a.m.: “What if these people didn’t chose to live here? Would I be safe? Would I have chosen to go to this school if the neighborhood around it was like Frogtown? Or like the neighborhood around Concordia?” And then ask yourself if it’s too much to ask that you be a little quieter, to throw your garbage away when you get home, and to use streets for what they are meant for.


Elaine Weber

This item was posted in Letters From Readers, Opinions and has 7 comments so far.


  1. Stefan Wolf
    Sep. 18, 2011 11:52 PM

    Ahhh, I see we’re starting out the year on a good foot. Ms. Weber, I also live in the neighborhood, and, like you, dislike litter and people being loud in the evening. But, I think it’s a bit disrespectful to send a letter like this right off the bat that generalizes about St. Thomas students (after all, it’s the few that ruin it for the majority) and does so in such a blunt, finger pointing sort of way. Let’s not start this war of words…I don’t want to sound like a broken record all year again.

  2. Andrew Rockwood
    Sep. 18, 2011 11:53 PM

    Funny that there I haven’t heard anything of the sort around Hamline where there are far less rich white people.

  3. Bianca Jones
    Sep. 19, 2011 11:41 AM

    An area like Frogtown? Or the neighborhood around Concordia? Kind of disrespectful to the individuals from that area who have grown up there, or have friends/relatives that live there, don’t you think? I understand what she was “attempting” to say, but that comparison was a bit uncalled for. 

  4. Patrick Fogarty
    Sep. 19, 2011 9:31 PM

    Elaine,  much of what you mention in your letter is not unreasonable. It is completely acceptable to expect a neighborhood that is free of trash and liter and somewhat quiet and peaceful. In terms of parking; I live with 3 other guys in a house one block from campus. Our house has one garage stall and no driveway. I am entitled to park on the street as I please, as I purchased a pass from the city just like you did. Because I live on these streets, I am entitled to use them as my personal parking space because that is exactly what it is meant for. I’d like to ask something of you and the rest of the neighbors of St. Thomas; please stop complaining about “those St. Thomas students.” For the past 4 years I have heard nothing but complaints from the neighbors. The students, myself included, do a lot of good for this neighborhood too. I have never seen a letter thanking us for cleaning streets, participating in a fall clean up, volunteering at local schools, or serving the community in the many ways I know students do. Part of the reason this neighborhood is so desirable is because of the beautiful university you have right across the street. Consider that next time you wish to complain and please take the bad with the good. 

  5. Jordan Hansen
    Sep. 20, 2011 1:56 PM

    When I went to school here, there was the same mentality from a decent chunk of UST students. Not all, but a decent portion.

    When this many students are being this obnoxious, it’s time to look at the root cause of it. In my opinion, it seems that there is a sense of entitlement that isn’t found in such large quantities in other area colleges.

    The only things that can hold the offenders accountable are their peers, or zoning laws, and the peers appear willing to complain about being portrayed negatively instead of dealing with this very real, and serious problem.

  6. tj murphy
    Sep. 20, 2011 8:09 PM

    Well stated Stefen and Patrick. I hope Ms Weber is doing something positive in the neighborhood too. St. Thomas is not the neighbors private park, but the neighborhood is our public space. I would hope we all can help keep the land free of garbage and respect each other. Remember Ms Weber it’s a two way street.

  7. Calvin Hauer
    Mar. 5, 2012 10:39 PM

    I agree with Bianca on this one. I live in Frogtown. Guess what I deal with all the time? All the things Ms. Weber just described. Also, I get the added gunshot, mugging, and crazy police harassment. I understand what we are all saying, and I do agree that UST students can be horrible neighbors. However, I feel that one should count their blessings. I would love knowing that crackheads are not hanging out in my alley, but then again, I am not rich, and can’ afford to live next to UST.

    Also, Imma park where I want.

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