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.