Stickin' it to the man since 1927.
By Gwen Walsh
Holy Cross, Clark’s consortium neighbor, has recently received a lot of media attention for the party scene and questionable behavior of its off-campus students. The City Council has been working with the school for years now to improve the relationship between the college environment and the residential neighborhood, culminating with the Holy Cross Community Compact, signed by Holy Cross President Reverend Michael C. McFarland and Worcester City Manager Michael O’Brien in November.
The entire contract can be viewed on the college’s website at:
http://www.holycross.edu/president/presidential_ communications/college_compact/. The compact states that the school and the city will work together when it comes to enforcing laws, building codes and student conduct codes. It also stipulates that in the future, students who wish to live off campus will have to go through an application process, and that parents will be notified of conduct violations, whether on campus, in the vicinity, or elsewhere in the city.
The college says that in an attempt to cut down on house parties, they will hold more on campus events and develop a better report with the local police and landlords to improve enforcement tactics. Additionally, alcohol policies and consequences will be more closely monitored.
Although Rev. McFarland signed the compact, and it seems the college’s proactive behavior has at least improved relationships with the local government already, tensions were still present when McFarland conducted an interview with the Telegram & Gazette.
In a December 8th article printed in the Telegram, Jacqueline Reis wrote “he said there’s so much other crime in Clark’s Main South neighborhood that drunken students aren’t as remarkable as they are near Holy Cross.” And “he said he has been told that some students don’t feel comfortable wearing Holy Cross logos around Worcester… Students are texting or e-mailing their friends all over the country about the atmosphere here in Worcester, Rev. McFarland said.”
McFarland did make it clear, however, that Holy Cross contributes a lot to the well-being of Worcester, through student volunteers and over $2.5 million in scholarships for local students.
But he also doesn’t feel that the institution should have to take all the blame for its students’ off-campus partying.
“Worcester doesn’t have a lot of institutions that have a national reach and a positive national reputation, so I think it’s important for all of us that this be a positive experience for students and they come in and feel like this is a welcoming place, which I think if you asked a lot of students right now they wouldn’t say that, which is certainly unfortunate from our point of view, but not great for the city either,” he said.
After reading this article, there was a group of Clark students, including Kristen Cullity, who felt offended by McFarland’s words. Cullity wrote an articulate and assertive email to McFarland explaining her feelings. “I’m surprised that you would judge the people who live in our neighborhood. Whether they can afford pricier houses near your school or cheaper houses near ours does not have anything to do with their tolerance to students drinking and partying,” she said. Cullity graciously asked McFarland for a response and gave him an opportunity to rephrase his sentiments.
McFarland quickly responded via email with an apology, and said he never should have made those statements. He also said that he has made an apology to David Angel as well and hopes that the community accepts his response.
Cullity was pleased with McFarland’s swift and professional answer. “I think the president is sincere in what he said and I really appreciate him taking the time to respond to me,” she said. “It meant a lot and made me feel like I did something to help our school.”