by Rose Brennan
Student misconduct in the Riverdale area has been at the center of several news clippings concerning Manhattan College this past week.
The first of these articles was published online by WNBC on Friday, Nov. 3, and said, “rambunctious party-goers are leaving behind trash, empty beer cans and even trails of vomit around their quiet community.”
WNBC also provided a video component to the article, which depicted both MC students and Riverdale residents weighing in on the partying culture of the college.
This story of student misconduct was also picked up by other news outlets. The New York Post published an article titled ‘College Students Leave Neighborhood Filled With Garbage, Vomit’ the same day.
In both of these articles, City Councilman Andrew Cohen, a Democrat whose district includes Riverdale and other neighborhoods, was asked to speak on the issue.
“The kids are drinking all of the time, all over the place,” he said. “The amount of drinking that takes place at Manhattan College is out of control and the school takes no responsibility for the kids off campus,” Cohen told WNBC.
On Nov. 7, within a week of the story breaking, Cohen was reelected to the City Council.
Aside from WNBC and The New York Post, more local news outlets responded to the stories. On Friday, Nov. 10, The Riverdale Press published an editorial by Karolina Janik, which complained about the lack of intervention by the college’s administration.
“If you contact the school about the trash, the drunken rampages, and the total lack of respect regularly seen, you may or may not receive a response from the dean of students. If he does respond, he will eventually stop because somehow it’s an annoying inconvenience that your building or neighborhood is getting trashed and that you routinely wake up on a Friday bleary eyed for work,” Janik wrote.
Early responses to this negative coverage were given by Peter McHugh, the college’s director of communications.
“Any students who have been found to violate our community standards and code of conduct, on or off campus, have been disciplined appropriately,” McHugh said.
McHugh provided further comment for The Quadrangle.
“I think our students have a responsibility to be good members of the community,” he said. “When you’re in a residential area, you need to show respect for the area. That’s just how we should live as responsible citizens. I think that’s where our responsibility lies.”
Following the release of these articles, a mass email was sent to the MC community by Vice President for Student Life Richard Satterlee and Dean of Students Michael Carey.
“The conduct depicted in these reports reflects serious disregard for our neighbors and the local community,” the email read. “As Lasallians, we know it is our responsibility to act with civility and decorum at all times, both on and off-campus.”
The email also stated that the college was working with outside parties including the NYPD, elected officials and Riverdale residents to address the issues raised in the articles.
Efforts are also being made on the behalf of students, according to Ryan Quattromani, chair of the college’s Neighborhood Relations Committee and a student at the college.
The committee was founded by Quattromani three years ago in response to complaints from neighborhood residents.
“The committee functions to better the relationship between the school and the surrounding area,” he said. “This committee is… run by students. It’s really tailored toward that student response: what can we do to hold our fellow students accountable off-campus? How can we influence the Student Code of Conduct? How can we better the relationship with neighbors?”
Since it was founded, several initiatives have taken place to develop a healthy relationship between the college and the surrounding community. These initiatives include an annual community luncheon and, more recently, a neighborhood cleanup, which took place on Nov. 5.
According to Quattromani, the partying culture has been fairly consistent in his time at the college, and that he had not observed any recent spikes in such activity, as implied in the articles.
“I just don’t see an influx in misconduct. I think this is something, at least for the three years I’ve been involved, it’s something that we’ve had pretty regularly. Not to say it’s good, but I… just this influx in the tension… there was nothing that really triggered it,” he said.
“It’s obviously something that we don’t condone at Manhattan College, but we need to recognize the reality that we are a space for 17- to 23-year-olds who are going to live and act like college students. And that does sometimes involve misconduct. So we need to recognize that’s the reality,” Quattromani said.
Some facts provided by the news outlets were proven to be false. The New York Post article claimed that the college’s tuition was about $58,000 per year. For the 2017-2018 school year, the college’s tuition was $38,000 per year.
According to the email sent by the college’s administration, a sentiment of misrepresentation was shared among much of the student body.
“I know that many of you are concerned to see your College characterized this way, and are already aware that this is not reflective as the student body as a whole,” the email said.
However, Janik and other Riverdale residents were reluctant to believe this.
“I would welcome the opportunity to be proven incorrect about my generalizations, and have given the school the benefit of the doubt in the past,” Janik wrote. “But as Manhattan College refuses to rein in the majority of their most visible and obnoxious ambassadors, there are not other conclusions I can come to.”