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It’s our backyard, too

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, November 9, 2005

In response to Professor Ed Manier’s Oct. 31 letter “Not In My Backyard,” I would like to make a few points.

First, the “student body sycophant” he cites is the first student body president in many years to recognize that the relationship between Notre Dame and the community of South Bend warrants careful attention and improvement. He has taken action, forming the Committee on Community Relations in the Student Senate, organizing an off-campus seminar and has frequently met with city leaders to address the issue. The only things that Dave Baron panders to are the best interests of Notre Dame.

Second, muscling through an ordinance that specifically targets students at a time when students are not adequately represented does not help to improve community relations. Promising that the ordinance will not be enforced unless neighbors complain and then breaking that promise does not help to improve community relations. Community relations is not just a Notre Dame issue; it’s a South Bend issue, too. We have to address it together, not in the summer when the other half isn’t here.

Third, the punitive measures taken against first-time violators of the ordinance are unreasonable and extreme. Underage alcohol consumption is illegal, and a reasonable person expects some punitive actions if he knowingly breaks the law. Eviction, however, is extreme punishment for a first-time misdemeanor offender. We cannot begin to improve community relations until both Notre Dame students and South Bend residents realize together that the ordinance does not in fact support that end.

Patrick KnappjuniorZahm House SenatorNov. 8