Last night Common Council discussed, but took no formal legal action on, a possible ordinance to regulate large private parties in Whitewater. I wrote a bit about this yesterday (see, Paradise is just one regulation away…).
City employees, along with others, will consider options, but took no other, formal action last night.
Few Big Events. There are very few large events in Whitewater, and even fewer that have created a disturbance. We’re a small town, and most of our events are relatively small, too.
Small Gatherings Added Up. Even large events are often, in fact, the combination of many smaller parties, rather than one private location’s festivities.
Ordinances as an Option. Not everyone in our government wants a new ordinance, but it’s worth nothing that (a) a university proposal was drafted under the assumption that there would be an ordinance, and (b) the first remarks on the matter from Whitewater’s assistant city manager comprised a list of cities that had ordinances regulating parties on private property.
One would be more comfortable with assertions that extra ordinances were not the first consideration of public officials if some of them did not make ordinances their first consideration.
One Swallow. If one swallow does not make a spring (it doesn’t, as swallows do not control the seasons), then it’s as fair to say that one bad event does not make an apocalypse.
There should, of course, be no public disturbances; still, we are a robust people who can weather present, and prevent future, disturbances.
Coordination. Spring Splash 2016 did go awry, but if the officials of this town & university cannot manage without yet another ordinance, I’m not sure why they’re being publicly paid. Millions for the city, hundreds of millions for the university, and enough university officials to staff the Pentagon – they’ve enough people to get this right without the crutch, the excuse, of needing more ordinances.
Why is a public man’s recourse often another public ordinance limiting private activity? This is a society of private property and private enterprise, and on them our prosperity rests.
Blaming His Own Students. One has heard, and Whitewater’s Chief Otterbacher repeated last night, that a main cause of the Spring Splash 2016 kerfuffle was too many out-of-city attendees (that is, non-student attendees).
I’ve no reason to doubt this contention. At the very least, it’s been repeated by officials and (because the Daily Union repeats officials) the Daily Union.
How odd, then, that in a Gazette story of 9.20.16, one reads that Matt Aschenbrener, UW-Whitewater assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention, contends that
many of the recommendations, including No. 4 [about large parties], are designed in part to teach students who are living off campus what it is like to be a good neighbor. Many of the students who go on to live off campus, he said, do not have experience having relationships with landlords, neighbors and the city.
See, Whitewater exploring possible regulations for large parties @ Gazette, subscription req’d.
Is Aschenbrener serious?
He’s describing the very students for whom he is responsible – for enrollment and retention – as though they were unacculturated, as though they were raised by wolves.
Does Aschenbrener believe that they didn’t have families that taught them – after eighteen or so years before arriving here – what it means to be a good neighbor?
I don’t believe that, and I never will.
Does he believe – contrary to what Otterbacher and others have said for months – that the problem has been local students and not out-of-town visitors?
I don’t believe that, either.
If the university were filled with students who didn’t know what it meant to be good neighbors, then neither the university nor the city would be able to function, even for a day. Life here each day does go on without problems like Spring Splash 2016.
These students are, in fact, people who already know what it means to be good neighbors. The continuing functioning of the community proves as much.
Even if Aschenbrener were right – he’s not – one wonders whose problem this is. He’s the ‘assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention.’ If the students arriving here are not up to snuff, wouldn’t that be evidence of failure from the administrator responsible for enrolling and retaining students?
Aschenbrener arrived here years ago, taking office on June 1, 2011. Although he may blame (unfairly) the students his university has enrolled over these last 1,939 days, the real fault would be his, as assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention, not theirs.
Good students, a good faculty, but a weak administration that lags behind the abilities of its students & faculty, and in this case blames those for whom it is responsible.
We’ll see more about how the city and university address the rare occurrence of large events; there will be more to come.