When Christopher Collmorgen tried to get home on March 17, he was unable to drive up his street nor the two adjacent streets due to students taking part in St. Patrick’s Day revelry.
He said some of the parties had spilled onto the street, with some of the students throwing beer bottles and some urinating in the street.
But angry as he was, the president of Action Sandy Hill and good neighbours committee member said all he wants is for the university-community partnership based “town and gown” committee to get up and running.
“I feel like looking to the past to blame is not going to move us forward and get us where we want to be,” Collmorgen said. “Why fight? It doesn’t have to be like this. Let’s make this situation the catalyst for change.”
For the past two months, the town and gown committee has been working at taking over the role currently served by the good neighbours committee, which had been created for residents to voice their concerns about living in a neighbourhood with a high post-secondary student population.
The pending town and gown committee would become a collective organization, featuring both student and non-student residents and would look to take a proactive approach to issues like the St. Patrick’s Day parties.
Currently, the town and gown committee is mired in procedure, as the University of Ottawa needs to discuss the terms of reference with their graduate and undergraduate student unions.
In the meantime, the good neighbours committee continues to function and at their March 19 meeting, Collmorgen said residents voiced their concerns about the amount and type of parties the neighbourhood has been dealing with.
He admits he was angered by the events that had recently transpired, but said he understands such feelings don’t help the situation.
“We have a lot of work to do and I have a fantastic group of people to do it, so let’s get started,” Collmorgen said.
In the meantime he said the university is going to have to help.
Alastair Mullin, the university’s representative on the good neighbours committee, said it is hard for the university to take action after students leave the campus. The university can only encourage students to be good neighbours.
But Collmorgen thinks more needs to be done.
“Why not have a code of conduct?” he asked. “When students act out like they did, there is no policy for the university to fall back on. Students have no consequences for their actions.”
Mullin said at this time a code of conduct is not something the university is contemplating, but something the new committee, once it is running, can discuss.
Collmorgen is trying to stay positive.
“We are trying to build a community for everyone, including students and this committee is the best way to make it happen.” Collmorgen said.
The community association as well has attempted to reach out to students.
In the fall Action Sandy Hill hosts a barbecue for the students and at the end of the school year, they give out prizes to student residences who have been good neighbours.
The association also makes an effort to let students know about some of the university-led initiatives, such as the dump-and-run, a free program where students can leave used furniture or items for other students to take.