College Opens Up to Neighbors for Luncheon

The Student Neighborhood Relations Committee held the second annual community luncheon last Friday, Feb. 17 as a way of opening a positive line of communication between the Riverdale residents and Manhattan College.

The luncheon started out with an invocation from John Bennett, director of Student Engagement and ended with a question and answer session facilitated by Richard Satterlee, vice president for Student Life.

The college has been working with the residents of Riverdale to address their concerns and reach common ground.

Dorian Persaud, Student Body President, gave a speech touching on the topic what Manhattan College means to him and what the goal of this luncheon was.

“What does it mean to be a Lasallian you may ask? There are five core values that are essential to our character: concern for the poor, quality education, an inclusive community, respect for all persons, and faith in the presence of God… Our goal and hope for this luncheon is to start and continue a dialog with members of our community as we think the feedback is crucial in the development of our relationship,” said Persaud.

Ryan Quattromani, the founder and chairman of the Neighborhood Relations Committee, followed Persaud with a speech explaining why the committee was assembled and promoted a relationship between the college and the community.

“I know there are a few students whose negligence may cause frustration in our community but I personally do not want these students to reflect Manhattan College, nor our image, values, or in general of who we are. Certainly, as everyone in this room knows, Manhattan College is comprised of good hearted, caring people and these are the people who should be representing Manhattan College,” said Quattromani.

The question and answer portion of the luncheon was opened and the neighbors who spoke seemed to have a consensus that in the fall semester the noise level of the students had died down to a tolerable level but after the winter intercession, the problem returned.

The residents also seemed to have a concern for the safety of the students themselves. They were worried about alcohol abuse being the underlying cause of the noise and disruptive behavior.

Riverdale resident for almost 20 years, Jean Rincon, said “I am very encouraged by the fact that the students are taking initiative and I strongly believe that the students can be the most powerful component of any effort. They don’t have to be accusing their fellow students, turning them in or shaming them, all they have to do it let them know that it is unacceptable that they would affect the reputation of the college and the image of all the other students.”

Pamela Judd moved around the corner of Manhattan College in the year 2000 and has been an active member since.

“I really appreciate the beauty of the campus and the energy of the students but it has been in the recent past a challenge with the noise at night and also concern about the safety of the students. They could be very vulnerable and it has gotten so much better since the college, the community, and the police has gotten together to collaborate and try to solve this problem, it has really opened so many doors just for the ability to sleep at night. It’s really been a big, big change and it is exciting to see the students take the initiative and leadership to make this happen. I am appreciative of this opportunity and look forward to getting involved and offering ideas or support as a member of the community.”

Closing the question and answer portion of the luncheon, Satterlee briefly spoke about actions the college is taking to ensure the safety of the students as well as a plan to better the quality of life for the residents.

“I think it is very important that our neighbors have an opportunity to interact directly with our student leaders.  It is especially important that students know that we take their conduct in the community seriously as an administration but I think that face to face contact between students and community members goes a long way toward creating respectful and meaningful dialogue,” said Satterlee.

There is an upcoming SGA neighborhood relations meeting with the community on Monday, Feb. 27, in the Kelly Commons fourth floor to discuss other ways to accomplish a safer, quieter community.

“There are a lot of things that students and neighbors alike agree upon so getting both sides in the room would be good because a lot of the time both sides of our community are on the same side. The next plan of action is at the end of this month there will be another meeting but in the evening because we received a lot of feedback from the neighbors who appreciated the invitation but could not attend because it was on a weekday in the middle of the day and they had work. We anticipate many more neighbors at that meeting,” said Bennett.