Loving thy neighbor: WU acts early in response to past complaints

As each new semester starts, moving vans and pickup trucks roll into Whitworth’s surrounding community to fill empty houses with college students. Some of these off-campus students save money on rent by packing as many people into one small house as possible. Many students also look forward to being exempt from the “Big Three” and living without adult supervision. While some of these off-campus students quickly adjust to this freedom, others have difficulty realizing that there are certain rules of the neighborhood that they must abide by in order to maintain healthy relationships with their neighbors.

“As we’ve grown to over 2,250 students it affects the neighborhood as our off-campus student housing grows too,” said Brian Benzel, vice president of finance and administration.

Benzel said that within the last 10 years, he has watched the number of rentals increase west of Waikiki, drawing more parties, noise and alcohol to the area. Within the last year, there have been at least three complaints by community members who have become increasingly concerned by the noise levels and partying, he said.

“Last spring we had a meeting with the neighbors,” Benzel said. “One guy had a college-aged kid on his roof. He took the time out of his day to come talk to me because he was concerned.”

Benzel said that Whitworth gets complaints every year about off-campus partying, noise levels, trespassing and property damage caused by students leaving parties. However, Whitworth does not have the jurisdiction to call the police about its off-campus residents. Benzel also said he is not completely persuaded that the noise levels and damages are all caused by Whitworth students.

“We kind of get tagged and unfairly labeled,” Benzel said. “But I’m not entirely convinced that all those kids leaving the parties and causing damage are necessarily our kids.”

Off-campus senator Ryan Charlton said that he has heard complaints of people leaving parties around the Whitworth Terrace area, the stretch of housing between Hawthorne and Holmberg Park. The complaints have been in regards to property vandalized by students who cut through neighbors’ backyards.

Charlton said the biggest issue that stems from the complaints is that of respect for Whitworth’s surrounding community.

“As Whitworth students, we need to be respectful and accountable for what happens in our community,” Charlton said. “Pause, think and be aware of your surroundings.”

Benzel said that while the most recent complaints were voiced last May, Whitworth is trying to problem solve in advance.

“No one wants to be denied fun, but there are a lot of really cool people in our neighborhood that are trying to sleep at night,” Benzel said. “It’s a general college responsibility to see what can be done to bring people together.”

Junior Seth Owens, off-campus representative, said that ASWU is trying to prevent the problem now so that they don’t have to solve it later.

“We are trying to hop on the issue now and promote conversations with neighbors rather than doing clean up duty in the future,” Owens said.

Owens said that right now he and Charlton are trying to get a pulse of what is going on so that they can find a way to best address this issue. Owens said that the first step toward solving this issue is well underway. Owens and Charlton sat down with a few members of the administration as well as a few concerned neighbors Monday, Oct. 15.

Both off-campus representative and senator agree that the next goal is to bring students and community members together directly to allow an open conversation for all who are concerned.

“The most we can do is encourage communication,” Owens said. “If you just talk with your neighbors, you will create a new relationship built on consideration for those on a different schedule than you.”

Owens said that as Whitworth students, he hopes that students will take responsibility for the people they might become after leaving the pinecone curtain. He hopes this will set an example so that others might step up too.

“This is a preventative gesture, not a gesture of reaction. Let’s keep it that way,” Owens said.

Jennifer Ingram Staff Writer   

Contact Jennifer Ingram at jingram13@my.whitworth.edu.

In the Loop: Whitworth ought to be grateful in the midst of first-world problems

How much time do you spend complaining about lack of sleep, overabundance of homework or internet connection problems? UNICEF New Zealand, partnering with UMR research, surveyed New Zealanders about their “First World Problems” and the results were striking. Although New Zealand is far different from the United States, we share a commonality: we don’t realize how good we have it. Some of the biggest problems from the survey included slow internet speed, the barista not making good enough coffee, getting a bad haircut and an uncomfortable couch. Most of us can relate to some of these and even think of some of our own. Whitworth’s “First World Problems” may be annoyance with Blackboard not working, not being able to access email, not being able to access the Internet in our dorm or our cell phone service not working in certain buildings around campus.

As students today, technology and internet are increasingly part of not only our entertainment world, but also our academic endeavors. We rely heavily on technology throughout the day. Fast internet can be the difference between finding three great sources for your next essay in fifteen minutes, and spending an afternoon waiting as each page loads at a painfully slow rate. If you can’t access Blackboard, it can mean not having access to materials you need for an assignment, or not being able to turn in an assignment on time. And, let’s be honest: Slow internet means it’s difficult to stream your favorite TV show via Netflix when you don’t have ready access to a TV. While some of these challenges are valid, it’s important to look at the bigger picture.

We often consider our community to be within the “Pinecone Curtain” of the Whitworth pine trees and are encouraged to get involved outside of campus in the Spokane community. We should also take time to consider our situation in the “Pinecone Curtain” as it pertains to the situation we are blessed with at Whitworth. On campus, we have campus-wide internet access and are constantly building and improving facilities to state-of-the-art measures. These blessings  among others create an exceptional living and learning environment, even by first world standards.

It is important to be grateful that we have these options available to us. Our “First World Problems” are incomparable to those of other countries; we are well-equipped with a great community that surrounds us, clothes on our back, food prepared for us, fresh, clean water at our disposal and an opportunity for education that will help us in the future. Not many people have the opportunity to have what we do -- we are privileged to be in the situation and place we are currently in.

Not every college student’s problems are all trivial. Some students manage a chronic illness, balancing their school work and other responsibilities with trips to the doctor and all of the things they have to do to manage their illness. Many work multiple jobs to pay for school and living expenses, and still will come out of school with debt. Figuring out what path to take after graduation is a serious issue that everyone has to deal with at some point as well. Others may be dealing with family issues, struggling to make it through a day without the weight of those issues bearing down on them, causing them stress.

Still, the fact that you are here means that somewhere along the way you received some pretty incredible advantages. This board is not saying people should never complain, but advocates putting things into perspective. Let’s face it, we all have those days where we need to vent, but it shouldn’t allow us to focus strictly on ourselves.

When your “First World Problems” arise, perhaps you can use it as an opportunity to think about the many ways in which you have it good.  Or, even go further into finding a way to help out those whose problems are a little more serious than your own.

Whitworthian Editoral Board

Contact the editorial board at croach14@my.whitworth.edu