by Nicole Fitzsimmons & Anna Woods, Staff Writers
The residents of Riverdale are disgruntled about the apparent rowdiness of Manhattan College students during the opening weeks of school. Last weekend, they took it to the popular Riverdale Facebook group to discuss their discontent with students and the college.
In an Aug. 30 post, a Riverdale resident wrote, “Has anyone ever had luck getting the cops or Manhattan College to crack down on the insane noise level when the students are partying on 238 and nearby?! They will scream and swear and hoot and beer pong until late into the night. Makes it impossible to sleep; they’re right next to us!”
The initial post amassed 247 comments of mixed feelings towards the loud students on W. 238 St. Some people on the post took this issue more seriously than the others.
One Facebook user commented “Have we all forgotten what is to be young and away from home[?] It is just the first week it will get better.”
Not everyone is so willing to view the rowdy behavior as normal or acceptable.
“Organize your neighbors to all complain to the 50th Precinct Community affairs officer and to Manhattan college. Organize a meeting with them and let them know your concerns. Strength in numbers of the community to put a stop to the nonsense and asinine behavior of some of those students,” wrote another resident.
Comments were split but the clear consensus was that angry neighbors should contact the 50th Precinct and the college directly.
An additional post by another Riverdale resident was made on Sunday, Sep. 8, displaying a flyer that said “STOP DESTROYING RIVERDALE. IT IS NOT YOUR CAMPUS” that encouraged community members to actively reach out to school and elected officials. The same poster who shared the flyer also shared two videos so that Facebook users could hear the noise levels that she could hear from her apartment.
Michael Steele, Assistant Director of Student Engagement, was one of the staff members that the group felt could help their cause. As the community liaison for the school and a member of the Student Engagement staff, Steele assists the Student Government with reaching out to the community throughout the school year.
According to Steele, this isn’t his first time hearing these comments and he may not be the only one on the receiving end.
“I’m not sure what other administrators experienced but from the residents I’ve spoke with so far, I believe they would like the students to be regularly reminded to behave properly in the community,” said Steele.
Steele and other staff members in his department have been working to alleviate the tensions between Riverdale residents and students for some time now. One of the solutions that has come up has been the Neighborhood Relations Committee.
“One of the solutions [to these complaints] was the annual luncheon. Some residents worked with the NRC to create it,” said Steele. “The NRC, invite residents, students, staff and faculty to have an informal conversation to build better connections among each other.”
The NRC also does neighborhood cleanups, working with residents to beautify Brust Park.
Peter DeCaro, Director of Public Safety, is not a stranger to these community complaints either.
“The college will receive complaints when noise levels become excessive. Complaints are generated from our neighbors, including local city officials and members of Community Board 8,” said DeCaro.
The office is also contacted by the 50th Precinct at times.
“Public Safety has a very good working relationship with the 50th Precinct and we communicate regularly with them. Community noise complaints are frequently a topic of discussion,” said DeCaro.
According to DeCaro, Public Safety takes these complaints seriously.
“Noise complaints made to the college are investigated. The complaint is documented and referrals to NYC 311 are generated, which in turn notifies the 50th Precinct. A police response could result in the issuance of a summons for excessive noise. If Manhattan College students are identified as the source of the complaint, they will be held responsible by the college under the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct Good Neighbor Policy,” said DeCaro.
While DeCaro’s office works hard to help address these complaints, the work of eliminating them truthfully falls on the students.
“Our Good Neighbor Policy is to set standards requiring behavior that is civil, safe, and respectful at all times. If everyone were mindful of this, I am confident we would experience a reduction in reported noise complaints and an improved quality of life for all that reside in our neighborhood,” said DeCaro.
While the school and the student body is working to build healthy relationships with neighbors, the relationship between MC students and Riverdale residents will always be evolving.
“There are no simple solutions to make everyone happy but as long as there’s a conversation and voices are being heard, we can build a stronger community which, I believe, is already happening,” said Steele.