Off Campus-Police Relations Disussed at Open Forum

Disclaimer: the author also participated in the discussion.

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As a part of their efforts to make changes to the social life experiences at Bates, the department of Student Affairs brought in two outside experts to give their input. While their open forum with students was sparsely attended, a variety of important issues related to the Bates experienced were discussed; particularly student relations with security, the Lewiston police, and the Lewiston community as they pertain to campus housing and party culture.

Kristin Cothran, of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and Francesca Maresca from Rutgers University in New Jersey, facilitated the discussion. Cothran is her university’s Director of Student Involvement, while Maresca is Rutgers’ Director of Health Outreach, Promotion, and Education. Erin Foster Zsiga, Associate Dean of Affairs here at Bates, introduced the pair, before stepping out of the room for the discussion to commence.

Despite notices about the meeting on Bates Today, the discussion only drew one student attendant, Jack Mulligan ’20. Mulligan said that he was surprised to be the only student participant, as he felt that many of his friends and peers had strong opinions on some of the changes between this year and his freshman year.

“I was surprised that more people didn’t show up because there’s been lots of conversations almost every day with my friends [about social life],” said Mulligan.

In particular, Mulligan said that he wanted to share his opinion and get more information on the increased Lewiston police presence around off campus parties this year. Mulligan is considering trying to live off campus for his senior year and thinks that the heightened police involvement may be a deterrent. In particular, Mulligan felt that the police focus on students living in the community might make an off campus house feel less independent than it ordinarily would.

“A lot of my friends and I are wondering if it’s worth it to live off campus because I think one of the major driving forces is to live independently and have a different social life than the first three years at Bates,” said Mulligan.

While Mulligan admitted that he was at times frustrated with Bates’ social life this year, he also acknowledged that Bates students have not always been respectful of their neighbors. Mulligan said that he was hoping to find ways to lead by example in dissuading his peers from disrespectful behavior, such as being loud late at night and public urination. Both Cothran and Maresca commended this attitude and discussed the ways that individuals can make a large difference in a community.

“I think it starts with one person. If you have an interest and a desire to make those changes, than those changes can be made,” said Maresca.

Bates College has looked to find ways to shift student nightlife away from off campus houses. Since the beginning of the summer, residents and the Lewiston city council have complained about the behavior of Bates students living in their neighborhoods. From early autumn to current day, a “nuisance party” ordinance has been put in place that gives Lewiston police greater authority to break up off campus festivities and penalize students.

Cothran, Maresca, and Mulligan all acknowledged that creating a balance that keeps all groups happy will be always be difficult but agreed that conversations like the one they had last Friday can be good starting points.

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