Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
Last night at city council City Manager Michael O’Brien and Holy Cross president Father McFarland presented their recently agreed upon Community Pact, a four page document that show a “renewed, shared focus on improving the safety and quality of life for Holy Cross students and residents of the College Hill neighborhood.”
So what’s in the compact? Some recommitting to old techniques, some harsher enforcement of rules already in place and an emphasis on greater communication between the Worcester Police Department and the college.
The compact is split into six sections, each detailing a way to minimize loud partying or dealing with the aftermath.
The first section, headed “Expectations for student behavior off-campus”, reinforces that “there is no difference if a violation (of permissible off-campus student behavior) occurs inside or outside the gates of the College.” Even students who live off campus will be held accountable to the school’s code of conduct.
Violations of the code stay on the student’s personal educational record, and parents will be notified if they are involved in an incident that “result[s] in neighborhood disturbances or violation of any law.”
The school will also start an application process where students who want to live off campus will be vetted. This will begin in the 2011-2012 school year.
In regards to working with the Worcester Police Department, a couple of new steps will be taken. The school’s public safety officers “will have an actively integrated presence with Worcester Police patrols in the College Hill neighborhood during certain times, as agreed upon.” Currently, the school does not pair up their officers with WPD, and Holy Cross’ patrols don’t police off campus.
This could be considered a significant change. The school has said their officers are “in communication” with WPD throughout the nights they’re there, but from what I’ve gathered, they don’t range off campus. Even if HC police don’t have jurisdiction off campus, actually having them patrol the streets creates a higher police presence on problem streets.
There will also be improved information sharing between the WPD and the school. Interactions between the WPD and any HC student will be detailed and “shared” with the college.
The school will provide the chief of police with any disciplinary action taken within the school relating to off campus disruptive activities.
HC will re-examine its shuttle service to the Canal District and Shrewsbury Street, and make adjustments that may make getting into the city easier and create a higher demand by the student body. The school will also look at increasing the hours of its on campus pub, adding hours to the Field House for intramural sports and creating a campus green in an effort to keep 18 to 21 year olds from resorting to socializing off campus.
Problem houses may be under more review and scrutiny by the city, including having problematic party houses submit to inspection from the city’s Property Review Team. (“Including while parties are underway, if necessary.”) Holy Cross will also continue to hold an annual meeting with landlords in the College Hill area. These meetings will continue to be voluntary. (Apparently, attendance at these meetings is pretty dismal.)
Basically, what this pact does is reaffirm the steps the city and the college say they’re already doing, but solidifies it in writing. There are some new wrinkles and improvements here, but from what I saw last weekend, Father McFarland’s letter to the student body was the most effective anti-rowdiness measure the school has taken in some time.