The Neighborhood Relations Committee hosted their third annual community luncheon last Monday, Feb. 19, as a gathering was held in Kelly Commons. The conversation taking place was to continue the mending of relationships between Manhattan College students and the Riverdale community at large.
Student Body President Micaela Bishop opened the event with a brief speech.
“I hope that Manhattan College has welcomed you into our community today and continues to do so in the future,” said Bishop to the community.
Ryan Quattromani, founder and current chairman of the NRC, was then introduced by Bishop.
While Quattromani was front and center, he discussed unity.
“The goal of our committee, which has been a major part of Student Government as a whole, is to better our relationship with the community,” said Quattromani. “I think we are, slowly but surely.”
After the two spoke, the luncheon was predominately conversational, as students, staff and the community ate over the topic of healing relations.
One community member in attendance was Jean Rincon, an active Riverdale resident who has led charges for relational improvement in the past.
“The feeling that [Riverdale residents and Manhattan College] can coexist is great,” said Rincon. “I would have liked to see more neighbors participate in this event, but we did have a pretty good showing.”
While noting that the closing of certain bars located near campus is part of the reason for relational improvement, Rincon added that increased police presence and events like the luncheon are steps in the right direction.
“The bottom line is that if students are drunk and screaming outside of your window, you’re not just going to say ‘it’s okay because they have fabulous events’,” said Rincon. “That’s the big issue, and the better that gets, the happier everyone would be.
“It would also be nice if the community could reciprocate it in some way in thanks,” said Rincon. “I suggested before that we could have some kind of reward given at graduation, certainly Ryan and Micaela would be deserving of this kind of award for all they’ve done for the community.”
Michael Carey, Dean of Students, also credited Quattromani and the NRC.
“Ryan and the Student Government deserve the credit, but this is the biggest turnout for a community luncheon that we’ve had. People are starting the feel like this isn’t a foreign territory, they’re welcome here,” said Carey. “Now hopefully our students will do a little bit of a better job in the community and participate in more cleanups, and follow our policies and procedures to be decent neighbors.”
Another neighbor of the College, Bertram Trebach, appreciated the added communication ushered in by the luncheon.
“[The luncheon] keeps everyone involved,” he said. “Communication is important, and [these events} keep everyone on their toes.”
Communication between the 50th precinct and Public Safety has also increased.
“We work with Manhattan College security for their events. Anytime there’s a big event, we work with them and try to make sure that their is additional security,” said Deputy Inspector Terence O’Toole. “We respond on an as needed basis and If there are complaints about anything we handle it right then and there.”
Juan Cerezo, Director of Public safety at the College, expanded upon O’Toole’s thoughts.
“For the last four years we’ve been working closely with [the 50th precinct] and the community. We hire a lot of extra security for large events, we’ve had low crime and low incidents,” said Cerezo.
“If we get any complaints from the community, we investigate those claims to see if students were in violation of the code of conduct. Whether they live on or off campus, you have to behave accordingly and be civil,” said Cerezo. “We do investigate those matters, and once we get all of the facts, we refer it to the Dean of Students and he determines the sanctions.”
Sanctions aside, Dean Michael Carey notices improvement.
“[The luncheon] is working,” he said. “It’s moving things in the right direction in terms of improving relations with the neighbors.”
Please visit mcquad.org for continued coverage on the NRC.