Amherst Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe needs a better script
Sick of town officials lip service over the serious problem of rowdy student party houses springing up all over Amherst -- no longer just the areas contiguous with our #1 employer, UMass -- neighbors in and around the traditionally impacted areas (Lincoln Avenue and Fearing Street) have taken matters into their own hands by collecting the 150 signatures necessary to get tougher warrant articles before Amherst Town Meeting next month.
If enacted the bylaw tweaks would force town officials to address the real culprits in this sad affair: slumlords and high volume management companies who specialize in enabling slumlords.
UMass seems to specialize in token, feel good strategies to address this serious problem, like a child trying to befriend a swarm of angry bees swirling around their downed nest.
Last year Umass, town officials and DA Dave Sullivan handed out oatmeal cookies in the southern campus while the northern sector burned. I'm surprised none of them played a violin.
Two weeks ago on "Umass Umake a Difference Day" day 200 mature, helpful students donated their time to cleaning up the town, while 2,000 students congregated on the quad area of Townhouse apartments making a mess. When police responded they were greeted with a barrage of cans and bottles.
Last March APD Chief Scott Livingstone appeared before the Amherst Select Board to update them, starting with this brief history, on arrests and the number of party house tickets police had handed out so far that year. Since then the problem has only worsened.
Six months ago I asked the University for the number of sanctions handed out to fraternities and sororities the previous year. They stonewalled my request. Recently the town asked for information on the number of students disciplined for bad behavior. UMass is hemming and hawing.
Simply put, only a small minority of students get rowdy -- but a very tiny minority of them are serial partiers, who need to be shown the door. Now!