The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

September 12, 2012

Suggestions of committee too vanilla

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The Daily Star

---- — For what it’s worth, the ad hoc committee created by Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller to deal with aggressive behavior by local college students is a good idea.

But based on the group’s vanilla initial recommendations to deal with a serious problem, we’re dubious about how much it’s worth.

More than 6,000 students attend SUNY Oneonta, and Hartwick, a private college, has an enrollment of 1,500 students. The first thing that needs to be said is that most of them are good people who don’t make trouble for residents or police.

However, there are far too many students who get drunk on a regular basis and act like hooligans.

Oneonta police chief Dennis Nayor said that at the end of the last academic year, students in four to six incidents showed disrespect for police and “overt acts of defiance’’ as officers were responding to calls and making arrests.

“This is not acceptable behavior,’’ Nayor said.

No, it isn’t. Neither is the behavior brought up in comments on The Daily Star website in response to our news story about the committee.

“I attended SUNY Oneonta, graduated a few years ago and opened a business here. I do not ever remember acting like I have seen these kids act. I don’t mind the drunk walk back to their housing and the occasional 2 a.m. wake-up from yelling. But the fireworks they have set off, my car being keyed, my fence being spray painted, the things they yell at you while they walk by, having the neighbors’ outdoor furniture placed in my yard, the vomit in my driveway, these things are too much.

Another comment came from someone who moved away.

“It’s unfortunate. We really enjoyed many aspects of the Oneonta community — the small-town atmosphere, the small local craft shops. But we got sick of screaming at our toddlers not to pick up the used condoms on the sidewalk, walk around the piles of vomit, and we got tired of trying to explain why their outside fenced-in toys were stolen or broken during the night.”

The ad hoc group’s recommendations are for monthly meetings with students, for city and campus police to meet weekly and for vague prospects for SUNY Oneonta to look at its code of conduct.

It’s not nearly enough if the city and colleges are serious about a solution. Increased police foot patrols would be a good idea. Serious consequences such as suspension or dismissal from the colleges would be another.

Oneonta’s economy rests heavily on underage students drinking in downtown establishments. Until the city, the bars and the colleges get serious about wanting to change that situation, the problems will only continue.