Kathryn on problems in university neighborhood


Kathryn Fenner wins the prize. I’m not sure what the prize is, but she wins it for being quoted prominently in a front-page news story headlined: “Naked college students push neighbors to breaking point.”

This is something to which I’m sure many of you have aspired, but Kathryn got there first.

But let’s shove our envy aside and soberly consider what she had to say about the problems in her neighborhood:

Aside from calling the cops and filing reports, residents like Kathryn Fenner would like to see the continued expansion of police patrols.

“USC police have extended their patrol area to include University Hill,” Fenner said. “When they started doing that, we noticed that things got a whole lot better in our neighborhood.”

Plus, she has learned that students fear the university’s disciplinary board, which if used aggressively, could help curb bad behavior by off-campus students. USC shouldn’t be so desperate to keep students that they’re willing to put up with appalling behavior, Fenner said.

Fenner said she also worries that if someday she wants to move, she’ll have to sell her home to a future landlord. It would take a special kind of person to live in her neighborhood, she said.

“You’re losing some of the in-town residents,” Fenner said. “There are people who have just had it.”…

Which the story points out is bad because the more resident homeowners who leave, the more rentals available to unruly, and possibly naked, students.

Speaking of which — the story’s opening anecdote reminds me of the situation my wife and I ran into in the area several years ago.

Anyway, it sound like USC is onto something with the patrols in the residential area. What else do y’all think should happen?

28 thoughts on “Kathryn on problems in university neighborhood

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    And I know what you’re all thinking. You’re thinking that the story should have said “such residents as Kathryn Fenner” instead of “residents like Kathryn Fenner.”

    But that’s because you’re a bunch of miserable pedants who can’t seem to focus on the real issues…

  2. Harry Harris

    I’m thinking our poor child-rearing is biting us now and will in the future until we place the responsibility of rearing our children higher on our priorities list than, say, stacking up wealth or disrespecting rules and laws ourselves. When I messed up as a youngster, my neighbor might say “You know better than that.” I did. A great many today don’t.

  3. Claus

    I guess that’s what you have to expect living in the urban area. Us rural folk way out in Lexington don’t have such issues. If you want to live near a university, expect to have neighbors who are college kids and tolerate such actions.

  4. Claus

    Does USC have jurisdiction in these neighborhoods? Can a USC cop break up a house party in Forest Acres?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      OK, I’m going to need the lawyers to weigh in here, but as I understand it, USC cops are official peace officers with the power to enforce state statutes anywhere. For instance, they can stop you for speeding off campus.

      I think. I had it explained to me once, but it’s been awhile…

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      USC cops have statewide jurisdiction. They have limited resources after patrolling campus (which includes the equestrian center in Blythewood, among other places). They patrol University Hill when they can because we are just a few more blocks. For them to patrol Hollywood-Rose Hill, where the naked young woman was found, would require a lot more resources. Of course, a patrol units costs less than an administrator, but….

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        The private universities and colleges, like Benedict, Allen and Columbia College have private security that does not have warrant authority.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    Cynthia did a good job of pulling the most important things from our hour plus conversation. She’s a good reporter (from the Post and Courier, most recently). I also went on at length about how the university, in response to state funding cutbacks, has sold its soul to students who have to pay full freight, especially from out-of-state, because they aren’t poor enough or diligent students enough to get aid. Rich kids who are pretty open about coming to party. USC did a white paper a year ago, and based on its own research, found that USC students are more than three times likely to binge drink (as defined by the CDC) that students at other SEC schools (something like 9% vs. 33%). We have a reputation as a party school, and we attract more partiers.
    That said, about a third of USC students don’t even drink!

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        The survey was given to incoming students under the age of 23. Most are freshmen and most are 17-19 when they take it.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Of course, when I was a student, the drinking age was 18. Although accessibility was an issue, since during my one semester at USC (Fall ’71) you had to be a “private club” to serve liquor by the drink.

      After I moved on to Memphis State, I lived in a private dorm on the edge of campus. Not only were there no rules or enforcement, but they used to throw us free beer busts, with unlimited refills.

      I remember having something like 10 very large cups one night before lying on my bed, feeling the room spin (it seemed to be doing so literally), then jumping up and barely making it to the sink before losing a good portion of the 10 cups. Fortunately.

      The people running that place should have been prosecuted…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        You still have to be a private club or a restaurant to serve liquor by the drink…..under the state statutes which are largely ignored. Ever tried to get some thing to go with your gin and tonic at the Art Bar? Nary a pretzel back when I would go watch the Art Bar Players….

        1. Doug Ross

          That’s government for you. Common sense isn’t a core competency. The liquor laws in this state defy any logic — I laugh every time I go to buy some beer at places like Greens and see that they had to erect a wall between the beer/wine side and the hard liquor side and have separate entrances. I’m sure Brad can find some sense in that by employing his “community standards” excuse for blue laws. But the rest of us find it to be pure stupidity.

          What exactly would be the harm of allowing any of the local craft breweries to serve food?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And there goes Doug with his libertarian notion that the government is something OUT THERE that is separate from us and decides willy-nilly on its own to do stuff to us.

            Yes, “community standards” is one way to express it. But basically the quiltwork of liquor laws we have across the country are the result of elected representatives negotiating and compromising in their best efforts to reconcile the very contradictory wishes that they perceive among their constituents.

            We decided Prohibition didn’t work (really, what we decided was that we didn’t WANT it anymore — if the political consensus had existed, we’d have continued to have Prohibition), so we went back to the confusing mess of laws that are the result of trying to do what “the people” want, when the people want things that don’t go together.

            In our electorate we have a strong (and perfectly rational, by the way, considering the damage alcohol does) urge to limit the consumption of alcohol, side-by-side with the strong urge to have a drink.

            So, since public will is expressed through laws under our system of self-government, we get some pretty confusing laws.

            The only alternatives to that are anarchy on the one hand, and some sort of despotism on the other.

            Doug would probably be happy with a government that did exactly what he, Doug, thought was reasonable and rational. But it doesn’t work that way. Everybody, not just Doug, gets a say.

            So he sees government as stupid.

            1. Kathryn Fenner

              I have no problem with the laws. It’s the apparently willful non-enforcement of same. Enforcement of most liquor laws is reserved by law to SLED, which, well…
              So the communities who are suffering the negative impacts of lack of enforcement of sensible alcohol laws (you ought to have food available, you ought to not be allowed to serve an obviously intoxicated person who shows no sign of stopping him- or herself, alcohol outlet density and drink prices are strongly correlated to binge drinking in young adults, etc.) have to do work arounds.

      2. Harry Harris

        And when you were in school, tankards of ale and wenches were pretty much the norm on a night out, right?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I preferred to drink from the horns that you couldn’t set down until the were drained.

          There was an art to it — grabbing the wench and pulling her, laughing, down plop onto your lap with one hand, and not spilling all the ale from the horn in your other…

            1. Claus

              That’s not the picture I envisioned. Mine had a guy sitting in the rare book collection of the library.

  6. Kathryn Fenner

    Also USC increased enrollments by about 6000 students in the last few years, while turning dorm rooms from double occupancy with a bath down the hall into suites, reducing the number of students it can house in the far more supervised dorms.

    And a USC report shows that almost twice as many kids who reside in dorms (almost exclusively freshmen) had to be transported to the hospital for drinking too much this August vs last (19 vs. thirty something). That tells you something about who they are attracting and what those kids are showing up expecting to do. The dorms only opened in mid August!

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