Emotions were high when members of the Castleton State College community met Wednesday to discuss the issues of alcohol, the community and respect.
The Student Government Association forum addressing the recent attention Castleton students have been getting due to the excessive noise complaints from the community brought together student leaders, on- and off-campus students and administrators alike. Public Safety Director Bob Godlewski was also present.
“We really needed the opportunity to gain different perspectives on these issues. Especially in moving on in the future, we need to know how to go on if these issues are to continue,” said SGA President Mike Shalginewicz. “Depending on the response we get tonight, we will consider having a meeting to invite the greater community of Castleton into the discussion, too.”
Despite the inevitable tendency to blame the freshman class as the problem, every CSC community member seemed to be asking the same thing.
“Why is there an increase in this year, more so than any other?” asked senior Brian McCarthy.
The issue centers around flocks of students blocking roadways, parties becoming out of control and police stopping students attempting to use safe ride. Although the issue focused on student behavior, some college members who believe the police have gotten out of hand too.
“In my case, me and a few friends were drinking at my house, kids started showing up that we didn’t even know and then we started kicking them out. If you don’t know us leave, ya know? And then they get diversion while trying to use Safe Ride and the cops come back Monday morning and give us enabling tickets. I’m not even 21, how does that even work?” said disgruntled sophomore, Ethan Smith.
Appealing to Godlewski and Dean of Students Dennis Proulx for explanation, Smith found that both would only cite the law as basis for police action.
“Everyone has that right – innocent ’til proven guilty,” said Godlewski, “But my understanding is that when it comes to parties at houses, they aren’t going to stop because they see the party, but because of a noise complaint.”
SGA Vice President Erica Bilodeau said the issue of the meeting and the community in general was, “not to criticize law enforcement, but to set a better example.”
In response, student and off-campus resident Heather Zaykowski, a senior, said that she felt as though even when renters have taken precautions and tried to stop kids from coming, “we aren’t being respected by law enforcement.”
“It would be helpful for the police to break it up, but they’re not just there for that,” she adds.
Owen Hartman, a junior, agreed.
“Are we responsible for what our guests decide to do after they leave?” he asked.
When it came to a response from administrators, Dean of Administration Scott Dikeman said, “We need to really look at the capacity here and say look, what kind of students do we really want at Castleton?”
Students seemed to murmur their agreement that the increasing number of students may be contributing to issues, however freshman student Brian Ward said maybe it wasn’t the type of student we admit, but how we acclimate them to the community.
“Maybe we should require two or three hours of community service. We talk about being a small college with a big heart, but most of us don’t even know the neighbors – we don’t do a lot to show that to the community,” Ward said.
Shalginewicz reminded meeting goers that despite living off campus or on, there are rules of conduct in the handbook that should guide every Castleton student. He added that the handbook is now only available online, and not distributed to students.
Proulx remarked that even when this handbook did come in print, he doubted that it ruled people’s conduct or that students knew much about it.
And Andre Coutu, an SGA delegate and Campus Activities Board leader, said more activities on campus won’t help.
“No matter how many programs I can plan or how much more attended they are, the kids causing the ruckuses don’t want to attend, so they don’t.”
Although Shalginewicz marked the meeting as successful in terms of getting ideas out and brainstorming solutions, sophomore Chloe McKeon was not as impressed.
“While I thought it was good to have a chance to talk this out, I thought the point was not to correct people’s opinions – as the Dean’s seem to do – and instead to give our opinions. We weren’t here to talk about the logistics of why cops break up parties, but how our campus is trending toward disrespect.”