‘Disturbing’ incidents around campus have increased ‘tenfold’

John Hershey, neighborhood liaison for St. Thomas, said he has received about 40 separate complaints from neighbors this semester regarding student behavior.

“I’ve received a lot more really bitter complaints from people about roving bands of students,” Hershey said. “Not just that they’re in the neighborhood but that they’re being disrespectful … who knows what’s true and what’s not, but I don’t have reason to disbelieve them.”

Hershey wrote a letter to TommieMedia last week and said there have been “a significant number of disturbing incidents in the neighborhood over the past month.”

These “disturbing incidents” involve vomiting, destroying and stealing property, public urination and walking on cars. Hershey said these incidents have increased tenfold.

But writing a letter to TommieMedia wasn’t something he wanted to do. He said he was compelled to do so because of the circumstances.

“Writing that opinion piece was one of the saddest days in my professional life here,” he said. “That I had to actually write something to advise our students about, like, civility … It just made me sad.”

Since the posting of another letter to TommieMedia from neighbor Elaine Weber Nelson, there have been some hostile comments from students, alumni and other neighbors.

“I’ve heard from all sorts of people, ‘Don’t they know they live in a college neighborhood?’ Well, duh, yeah they do,” Hershey said. “But they have a right to be treated civilly.”

Student thoughts

Some St. Thomas students think that there is no problem with how most students are treating neighbors. But others, like senior Amanda Leaveck, disagree.

“We forget that it’s not just St. Thomas students living here,” Leaveck said. “We just think, ‘Oh, it’s college!’ We forget that there are neighbors with families.”

Senior Greg Hartung said that the respect toward neighbors entirely depends on the group of students.

“There are those who are very polite, walk quietly and they don’t leave trash …” Hartung said. “Then there are those who don’t do that in their own houses and could probably care less about property that isn’t theirs.”

Hartung read Weber Nelson’s letter to TommieMedia and said he thought it was mostly polite.

“There were a few comments that were generalizing the student body,” he said. But Hartung added that the first comment on the letter was out of line. As for Hershey’s letter, Hartung said it was very professional and “a respectful reminder to everyone.”

Complaints have increased in the last few years

Hershey has been the neighborhood liaison for 12 years and said that this year, he has received the most complaints of this kind in such a short time period. He added that the number of complaints has been increasing a bit over the last three or four years.

There are several contributing factors to the number of complaints this year, Hershey said. The most influential factor may have been the long period of time between the beginning of September and the start of school as it created a “perfect storm” with many students starting leases Sept. 1.

“You’re looking at the only St. Thomas employee who walks out of his workplace on Friday afternoon and looks up at the sky and hopes for a cold, rainy weekend,” he said.

Hershey recognizes that sometimes the complaints come from the same neighbors on a different weekend because the behavior isn’t changing.

Selby Avenue: a hot spot for complaints

“The majority of the plaintiffs have let me know of their dissatisfaction on Selby but I’ve had complaints from Lincoln, from Cleveland, from Wilder north of Marshall, from Portland, Ashland, Laurel and Dayton as well as Selby,” he said. “[Selby’s] kind of a main artery; it leads back to campus from O’Garas and the Blue Door.”

Hershey has two sons in college and said that he can understand that some of the noise is innocent. He suggests common sense when going out at night, including keeping the noise down and not stealing or destroying property.

Stephani Bloomquist can be reached at slbloomquist@stthomas.edu

5 Replies to “‘Disturbing’ incidents around campus have increased ‘tenfold’”

  1. Students who voice their opinion about the residents living in a college neighborhood are trying to tell those residents, universities and their parents that getting excessively drunk, puking in other people’s yards, damaging other’s property should be expected from college students?  I heard the younger generation believes they deserve everything without working for it, but has it really gotten this bad?  This is along the lines same lines as the student who asks their professor why they only got a B when they tried their hardest.  Should the new generation be called ‘generation entitled’?

  2. As a student here, I am frankly quite embarrassed at the behavior exhibited by many of my fellow students.  I stand by my comments on the previous letter sent by Ms. Elaine…this behavior is unacceptable, but does not apply to all students.  However, when incidents like this happen, they reflect terribly on the rest of us.  Everyday when I come to school, I witness excessive consumerism, wastefulness, and, as the comment above me points out, strong senses of entitlement.  I have heard of students trying to get prof’s to change the dates of tests because it’s “not fair” to have it on this or that day, etc.  Hello folks, we aren’t in high school anymore.  Grow up, act your age, and for crying out loud, stop making us look like a generation of spoiled, snobby, entitled people.  Put in the work, be polite, be respectful…if you want to be treated like an adult, act like it.  Every time you don’t, it makes us all look bad.  

  3. The comment by Isaac Broberg is one of the most ludicrous comments I have ever read and is a sweeping generalization of an entire group of people of which he clearly does not know much about. Generation entitled? Sure there is a group of kids who fall into this cliche, but to characterize the St. Thomas student body in this way is outrageous and offensive. A large group of students study hard, volunteer outside of the classroom, and work an outside job in order to pay for their education. It is beyond unfair to characterize the entire student body because of an example of a drunk student. I also find it disgusting (but not surprising) that John Hershey hopes for rain and cold on weekends so that we will stay in. Being the neighborhood liaison should mean fostering a relationship between St. Thomas’ neighbors and students, but instead a door sign is hung at each house which is artificial and does nothing. Making progress by actively involving students and their neighbors could be a great first step to moving past generalizations about ‘generation entitled’ and cranky neighbors.

  4. I think Mr. Broberg makes a good point. More and more we are become a culture that feels as though it is entitled.

  5. Kristen,  to clarify I do not think the entire St. Thomas student body go about like they are entitled.  I said that I have ‘heard’ the younger generation is increasingly acting as if they deserve more.  I have read this in numerous articles from respected media outlets.  The trend extends all the way to my younger brothers just starting high school and another who is a senior.  I’m sure there are also a number of professors who can verify the increasingly ideology of students who think they are entitled.  It was a generalization to those who feel the neighbors should put up with public intoxication and destruction of property just because they live in a college neighborhood.  In order for St. Thomas to remain successful, continue growth and maintain a good neighborhood sentiment it should be us, the student body, who accepts the fact our school is in the middle of a neighborhood.

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