JCU was listening: Community responds to resident’s letter

December 6th, 2012

John Carroll University’s consistent conflict with the citizens of University Heights has resurfaced, this time with a written complaint in a letter to the editor. In the letter, which was published by the Sun News, a local Northeast Ohio newspaper, a University Heights resident expressed her complaints regarding John Carroll students’ ill-mannered party habits.

The letter’s author, Susan Kane, described students’ weekend behaviors as loud and negligent, frequently referring to common noise disturbances that have contributed to her lack of sleep. In addition to the commotion, Kane labeled these activities as destructive and as “an ever-growing problem” in University Heights. Kane directed her complaints towards the JCU community in the article’s concluding statement: “John Carroll, are you listening?”

Kane’s article stirred up conversation across campus and on social media. Many students have found her article an exaggerated description of the weekend occurrences at JCU.

Junior Tyler Weseling said, “I am sure the ‘hundreds’ of John Carroll students [Kane referred to in her letter] is actually much less; and the inconvenience of students walking back to campus after enjoying a night with friends does not deserve to be categorized as the ‘pandemonium’ that Kane describes.”

Weseling, who transferred from The Ohio State University after his freshman year, also claimed that the partying habits of JCU students are minimal compared to his experience at other schools.

Kane’s article has irritated many students who believe it is giving JCU a bad reputation that it does not deserve. “It is unfortunate that Mrs. Kane’s experience has led to a communal portrayal of John Carroll students as an annoyance, because students provide such a positive impact in University Heights,” said sophomore John Urwin.

Urwin, a work study student in JCU’s Center for Service and Social Action, attested to the numerous charitable acts JCU students have made for the community, stating, “John Carroll is a school for others. So many students participate in service projects that contribute greatly to the University Heights community.”

Senior Alyse Viggiano, reiterated this point, emphasizing her involvement in the Boler School of Business’ Community Day, where students of the business school volunteered at local service sites.

“I raked leaves and picked up trash off littered lawns, while others volunteered at local shelters. It was just another common occurrence of John Carroll students genuinely wanting to offer their time and efforts to the surrounding community.”

Viggiano also commented on Kane’s depiction of Warrensville Center Road as an area scattered with “beer cans, trash, broken glass, beer bottles and neglected properties,” which, in Kane’s belief, is a direct result of JCU students.

“Unfortunately, people litter,” Viggiano said. “It is a problem every community experiences, and students should not be identified as the sole culprit in this issue.”

Some students are sympathetic to Kane’s situation. Senior Pat Burns understands that college students at times can become rambunctious on the weekends, often times creating a disturbance. “I am sure that the late night activities can be troublesome to some residents, and some of the rude behavior Kane mentioned is unacceptable in regards to John Carroll’s standards.”

Donna Byrnes, associate dean of students, has talked with Kane in the past. In 2004, when Byrnes was associate dean of residence life, she received a call from Kane. Back then, there were issues with students disrupting sleeping neighbors and cutting through property.After this report, the Community Standards Manual was edited to allow JCU to discipline students for off-campus transgressions, at the University’s discretion

According to Byrnes, when Kane bought her house, most JCU students lived on campus or in Cleveland Heights, where student housing was available. Many of the Warrensville houses were still inhabited by families

“I do believe the University has taken steps,” Byrnes said. She mentioned a one-hour program JCU has on being a good neighbor for rental owners and students cited for disturbing the peace.

Upon reading the letter in the Sun News, Byrnes said, “I could tell she [Kane] was really angry.”

Tonya Strong-Charles, director of media relations & communications at JCU, said, in response to Kane’s letter, “Neighbors should express their concerns to the police department if they have complaints about residents whom they believe to be John Carroll students. We know that the majority of our students are respectful of neighbors; all of our students are well-informed about the importance of being law abiding citizens on and off campus.”