Those Damn College Kids…
I’ve sat through many community meetings and a consistent thread has been “Those Damn College Kids” are ruining the East Side. From listening to this small group of residents you would think that the students on the East Side are terrible, that all they do is get drunk, fight, scream at night, and urinate on their neighbor’s yards. I’ve also heard residents claim that not only do students commit minor crimes but that they attract crime to the neighborhood. Hearing all of these problems I’ve come up with a solution.
I say move UWM out of Milwaukee. Right now UWM is looking into expanding its Engineering School out into Wauwatosa, and maybe they should consider moving the entire university. We’ll definitely be better off without all of those college students running around town, destroying property values and ruining our quality of life. Right?
Of course this idea is so terribly misguided and shortsighted that I thought nobody would suggest such an idea. Apparently I was wrong. A group of East Side residents recently held a community meeting to discuss this concept and have actually started a petition urging UWM to relocate. In response I felt it was necessary to point out a few of ways that college students help to make our city a better place.
- They Volunteer and Support Charities
- They Support Business
- They Make our City Safer
- They Help Grow our City
The truth is that many students become engaged in their community by volunteering and supporting charities. UWM students have helped to cleanup the Milwaukee River, Bradford Beach, and even our streets. Additionally UWM students, working though the Center for Volunteerism & Student Leadership at UWM, get involved with mentoring, helping the elderly winterize their homes, donating blood or choose from over ninety organizations working to improve our community. Beyond volunteering and despite their limited incomes according to the Alloy Media + Marketing’s 8th Annual College Explorer “69% of students cited “donating money to a cause or charity.” It’s clear that students are helping our community with their time and money, but rarely get credit for their efforts.
It is true that students sometimes are the victims of crime and sometimes they commit crimes themselves. But it isn’t true that singling out and eliminating students from the East Side will make it a safer neighborhood. The truth is, that college students like all residents add “eyes on the street.” The idea that having more “eyes on the street” helps to deter crimes stems from the concept that criminals don’t want to be caught so they don’t want to be seen committing a criminal act. College students play a vital role in this area by increasing the “eyes on the street” during different hours than the 9 to 5 crowd otherwise would. This mixture adds to the overall safety of the neighborhood, it certainly doesn’t take away from it.
Finally the future of Milwaukee requires growth and fundamental to this growth is a college educated populace. A recent report put out by CEO’s for Cities, titled Attracting the Young, College-Educated to Cities, indicates that “college educated young people are most likely to consider living in places similar to where they are now.” The idea that college educated people will choose to live close to where they went to school shows that to build up this talent pool will require college students going to UWM on the East Side. If Milwaukee intends to compete in the global economy, it is these very college kids that will play a key role.
I think we need to remind people, that when they say “Those Damn College Kids”, they should be reminded that “Those Damn College Kids are the Future of Milwaukee.”