Thursday, June 4, 2009

UWM and columbia

(whoops- realized I posted this backdated. Here it is as the correct date, 6/4.)
This article in the May 29, 2009 Journal-Sentinel discusses the possibility of UWM's expansion onto what will be in 2010 the former site of Columbia Hospital.

"Columbia St. Mary's Inc. has agreed to sell its buildings next to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to a local developer, and university officials are eager to meet with him to discuss their interest in leasing space for student housing and other uses.

Milwaukee developer Doug Weas said Wednesday he's signed a contract to buy the buildings, which will become available for development in 2010 after the hospital complex closes. UWM Chancellor Carlos Santiago said university officials plan to meet soon with Weas to discuss their interest in using some of space for student housing, student health care, child care and other purposes."

"The university has long eyed the Columbia complex, which covers more than two blocks just across N. Maryland Ave. and E. Hartford Ave. from UWM's campus..."

..."A year ago, more than 20 members of the Mariners Neighborhood Association picketed outside the UWM Union, where the UW System Board of Regents was meeting. Among other things, the neighbors wanted UWM to promise not to use the Columbia site for student housing." This seems a little sad to me.

"Mariners President Michael Rosen said then that students flood the neighborhoods every weekend, attending parties, urinating on lawns and knocking over trash cans."

Personally, I lived in that neighborhood for three years- two years across the street from the Sandburg Halls, on Newport, and one year across the street from the Student Union, on Kenwood Blvd, and I didn't see that kind of behavior. Sure, there was some occasional street noise, but never anything like "students flooding the neighborhoods" and creating a huge level of mayhem. It's by and large a commuter campus. Did the article interview any neighbors who enjoy a proximity to the campus and its benefits- being able to walk to free concerts and art movies, auditing classes, attending lectures... Brain and I go to some of these things. Some of the neighbors do too.

What about this: what if the drinking age were 18? What if there were on-campus bars? Students will drink. Students will go to parties. What if there were safer, more contained places for them to do so? What if?


Dave Reid said...

Good post. I believe this property makes a ton of sense of UWM. Now I'd say UWM is becoming less of a commuter school and moves like this can further that, which I think is a good thing. We need more students going to UWM and living in Milwaukee.

New Mama said...

We lived on Newport west of Oakland for four years and left solely because of the students and the crap they pulled. (After pouring our hearts and a ton of money into an historic old house that we loved.)

They were yelling in the streets at 3am on a weekday (waking poor Maddy up, who thought there were monsters), pissing on our neighbor's garage, breaking bottles in the streets, fighting in the streets, and on and on.

NO WAY is it all nicey-nice like you suggested. I would NEVER want to live near a university again.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention free psychotherapy for qualifying individuals!

Erik Helm said...

The problem was recognized back in the 1960s already. Both Columbia hospitals expansion and the conversion of UWM into a larger school and the physical growth it needed would encroach on one of the most precious and unique neighborhoods in Milwaukee: the upper east-side.

The problems that the University's expansion caused and are still causing are great. Noise, absentee owned houses in disrepair, public drunkeness and vandalism are repleat. The University could be doing more. I agree absolutely with you that on campus activities could help. When I attended college there the drinking age was 18, and I worked in the various Gasthouses, cantinas, and ran the Kenwood Inn. There were less disturbances from those establishments. A large bar, Brubakers on Downer Ave. was a different story. It was closed in response to complaints by neighbors. Students will be students, but by in effect moving all partying to illegal off campus locations, you exacerbate the problem.

Columbia was thought of in the 1970s as as much of a problem as the University, but it turned out not to be.

I think University expansion to the hospital area is actually a good thing. Unless the plans are to tear down the hospital buildings and put up solid housing, if changes were made one would look to plastic condos being built. No thanks. The University has to expand given that the baccalaureate program has become a commodity in today's world. Columbia is already there. Lets not tear down any thing else.

I grew up on Downer and Linwood.

The River Otter said...

Well said, Erik. You're probably the same age as Brain. He is a big proponent of the (legal)drinking age being returned to 18. It sounds like there was a lot more going on on the campus back then and I wonder if that relates also to increased student safety, especially for females.

Erik Helm said...

I am not certain about student safety, but it never seemed to be as much an issue as it now is. I think crime followed the ever expansion of the university and the non street savy and intoxicated co-eds and other easy targets that wander the east side. When I was growing up, the stoned hippies and confused philosophy students were not as desirable a target.

As far as the drinking age, yes, for better or for worse, I am for returning it to 18. If we look to more liberal countries around the world, we find that the kids are raised with a beer or a glass of wine a couple of times per week. Alcohol in moderation is part of society. America on the other hand demonizes alcohol to children, and thus, alcohol and binge drinking are part of a rite of adolescence. Now it is a 'cool' thing. Not good. Also, obviously, the fact that anyone is considered responsible enough to serve and die for their country at 18, but not responsible enough to have a beer is ridiculous. If our country thinks that tougher laws against vice will prevent vice, then we have learned nothing from prohibition. After all, we have been fighting and losing "The war on drugs" since the 1980s.

The River Otter said...

Erik, with the exception of the one issue that was the entire reason I started blogging in the first place, I think we agree on most things.
Life is weird that way.