Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Waiting to Exhale

Last Sunday, the Journal and Courier headline "Waiting to Exhale"  led into an excellent fourteen page report on Purdue's "Breakfast Club".  Included in the report was a section written by Chris Morisse Vizza on how "Breakfast Club" impacts our New Chauncey neighborhood.

We all have our stories.

A professor goes across the street to say something about party noise and ends up with broken bones after being tossed off the front porch. They live in British Columbia now. The early morning "golfer" who walked down Stadium banging his driver against the parked cars to set off the car alarms. The drunken girl laying herself down in the middle of our alley.  Underage students jumping our fence, fleeing from a party in the house across the alley that had attracted police attention. My youngest got to sit in the back of a patrol car and give a statement after she witnessed Purdue drunks begin bashing the head of a Notre Dame drunk against the concrete steps of the house at the corner. Our neighbors the nurses worked on his wounds. Etc.

We are the people who like students. Most of us have Purdue salaries and benefits. We could live anywhere. But we like being a part of a historic, multi-class, multi-generational, near campus neighborhood. We are throwbacks to a time when the Ag Dean lived at the corner of East Stadium and Salisbury and walked to work. We are throwbacks to an era when continuous contact between faculty, staff, and students was assumed. We expect high energy levels. Noise.

We feel that things are probably better than they were five years ago. Purdue students have changed. They have gotten older. Proportionally, the number of grad students at Purdue has increased. They have gotten smarter. The SAT scores are higher. They have gotten richer. The higher SAT kids usually come from out of state (sorry, Indiana) and have parents with resources enough both to pay out of state tuition and buy their students a house in our neighborhood. They have gotten wiser. Thank you Tammy Loew!

And the football teams have gotten worse.

But "Breakast Club" makes us uneasy. Our little football Saturday Mardi Gras, with costumes and alcohol tourism; it's fun. It provides a little color in a sometimes colorless place. We are not a party school. But it also means we take for granted teen-agers (is anyone surprised by underage drinking) drunk by 7:00 am. Not just in the Village at the bars, but at near campus and on campus parties.  Put out the barricades, it's Boiler "Rumspringa". Try explaining that (and our liquor laws) to an out-of-state colleague.

Everybody is responsible, the paper notes. That's true. But only for a time. People move on. When they go, they are no longer uneasy. It's not so bad. It's not . . . Bloomington. 

But the neighbors are always here. We take the deep breath. We remember the few deaths, share the new stories, call the police and city hall; and we stay uneasy about our signature social event. 

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