One of these days, the College of Charleston is going to end up on one of the best-known national rankings in higher education.
Yes, it is destined for Playboy’s Top Ten Party Schools.
Last month, downtown residents asked the college and the city to do something about this. They say college kids are out at 2 a.m. acting exactly like a pack of wild animals — whooping and hollering in the streets, breaking stuff, peeing in yards.
Now it’s true that sometimes downtown residents can get a tad stuffy. They don’t like horse carriages, cruise ships or skateboarders (can’t blame ’em there). And Mayor Joe Riley is right when he tells them to settle down, that Charleston is a living city, not a gated community or a museum.
But the residents have a really good point this time.
If you’ve been on King Street after 10 p.m., you know it’s getting ridiculous. And no matter what they say, this is the college’s problem.
There is precedence.
Bunch of baloney
It’s true that no one living downtown was here before the College of Charleston, which dates back to 1770.
But a lot of residents have been here long enough to remember the promise that enrollment would never exceed 5,000. Then they swore it wouldn’t top 10,000.
These days, there are 11,000 students — and most Friday nights it looks like every one of them is trying to cram into AC’s.
College officials say not all these rabble rousers are their students. Maybe not, but a good number of them are. And they aren’t good ambassadors for the school. They are passing out in the streets, leaving their trash lying around and acting like they don’t know Charleston is the most mannerly city in the country.
Just recently, the city laid some pretty onerous — and unreasonable — rules on bar owners. The new ordinance suggests that a bar’s patrons are its responsibility, even after they hit the street. By that logic, students three blocks off campus should be the college’s responsibility.
The college doesn’t see it that way, of course. Officials poor-mouthed residents last month, saying they didn’t have the money to hire more public safety officers.
Really? They raise tuition every year and don’t have a few bucks to keep the peace?
You don’t have to go to a revered institution of higher learning like the C of C to know that’s a lot of baloney.
Heal thyself, college
City Councilman Mike Seekings, whose district includes much of downtown, says the college must help out with this problem.
“It’s not enough to say when they’re off-campus, they’re not our responsibility,” Seekings says.
He says the college ought to require a freshman class on urban living. That’s a start. It also should send officers into adjoining neighborhoods at night to make sure the students aren’t terrorizing folks who have to get up and go to work the next day. Or just want to sleep.
Bottom line, the college isn’t being a good neighbor right now — and that’s one of the first rules of living in a working city.
The College of Charleston owes its neighbors, and its own reputation, better.
At the very least, the school should teach its students the primary lesson from “Animal House:” Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or tune in to his chat at noon today at postandcourier.com
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