Thursday, December 6, 2007

UWM breaks promises to east side neighborhoods

For several years east side community residents have been meeting with top UWM officials in an effort to address the escalating student behavior problems associated with the University's rapid and uncontrolled growth. While the University’s administration has repeatedly promised to work with the neighborhoods, its record increases in enrollment have undermined those commitments. As a result, neighborhood problems have intensified and the quality of life in the residential areas has deteriorated:

*The neighborhoods adjacent to the University are the only ones in the city that have experienced an increase in absentee landlords.

*Vandalism and violent student behavior have increased as the number of student party houses has soared.

*As families have been moved out in response to aberrant and unacceptable student behavior, stable residential neighborhoods have become transient and assaults and vandalism have increased.

*Property destruction by students who have no commitment to the neighborhood has increased and in some areas the housing stock has deteriorated.

In meetings with leaders of four neighborhood organizations and state elected officials two years ago, Chancellor Carlos Santiago and Provost Rita Cheng stated unequivocally that UWM recognized the problem of being a landlocked campus with increasing enrollment. Even before its recent record enrollment increases, UWM with 331 students per acre was far denser than any other University of Wisconsin campus. Its closest rival was UW Lacrosse at only 76 students per acre. Santiago and Cheng promised that enrollment increases would be modest and come only from increased retention.

Today’s MJ Sentinel article suggests that the University's top administrators have not kept their promise to the community.

UWM has experienced record enrollment increases in at least the last two years and led the entire UW system this year.

The University has not negotiated with its eastside neighbors in good faith and has ignored the neighborhood’s concerns.

It is apparent that the University's leadership thinks it can pacify east side residents and elected officials with promises and police patrols (which divert anti-crime resources from more problematic areas of Milwaukee), while exacerbating the problem by recruiting more and more students to its landlocked east side campus.

The University's failure to keep its promises to the residents of the east side residential neighborhoods cannot be tolerated.

If UWM wants, as it claims, to be a neighborhood partner, it needs to cap its east side enrollment, abandon plans to purchase Columbia Hospital and convert it to a dorm, and support the community's effort to expand Chapter 17, the University disciplinary code so that it covers off campus behavior.

A failure by the University’s leadership to respond responsibly to these legitimate neighborhood concerns will lead to increased tensions between UWM and the neighborhood residents whose taxes support it.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are whispers at UWM that they are looking into purchasing Hartford School from MPS.

Anonymous said...

This shouldn't be shocking news to anyone. Everything the University has been working on in recent years such it's open attempts to purchase Columbia Hospital and turn it into a dorm, whispers of purchasing Hartford school from MPS, and construction of the huge new Graduate living facility on the corner of North and Humboldt has suggested that it plans on continuing to grow as much as possible. 331 students per an acre may be the biggest in Wisconsin but when you compare their enrolment to other similar sized schools in the country such as Iowa St. (25,462 Fall 06) or even a bigger school such as Michigan St. (43,000-44,000) students annually I'm sure it's right at average or even below because UWM doesn't have as many dorms or large fraternity/sorority houses like these other schools. This is business. UWM is in essence a business and why would it want to limit it's enrollment/ie profit margin? The fact is it's going to continue to try and grow and the residences in the area are going to have to adapt and work with the college in issues that arise or move.

Anonymous said...

I always hear near by residents complaining about finding cups on their lawn or catching someone peeing like it happens every other day when in actuality it probably happens once a month or less. What they fail to mention is how much they like the convenience of having the super Walgreens or any of the many food places right around the corner that they do go to every other day which would not even be there if it weren't for the draw of the University. You have to take the bad with the good. If the university has a chance to grow, it will. If current residences move out, people will swoop in to buy up the properties and rent out to students and have no problem paying the taxes because they make a killing off of being a landlord.

Sura said...

Clarification: Anonymous #1 said, "the huge new Graduate living facility on the corner of North and Humboldt..."

The Riverview dorm on the bluff of the Milwaukee River at North Ave. is actually a freshman-only dorm, not a graduate dorm.

Dave said...

The growth of UWM is the hope for our city. 2/3 of college graduates want to live in an area close and similiar to where they went to college (source report by city vitals) We need more college educated graduates as there's a direct correlation to income. If we want a better Milwaukee we want a bigger and better UWM.

Pete said...

Dave is right. MKE needs more college graduates and a a bigger UWM which, in my opinion, should be located near current East side campus. We need more density not less.

There are many possibilities for growth on or near campus, despite what the neighborhood would have you believe.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:09, you misunderstand the statistics. The hundreds of students per acre at UWM is not of students living there -- so it has nothing to do with dorms (UWM houses more than 3000) or frat houses (UWM has those on Oakland; you just don't see them because of signage laws).

That statistic is calculated across all campuses based on enrollment, not on-campus housing. I.e., total enrollment vs. number of acres.

And UWM has less than 100 acres. Go look and see the acreage at the campuses you mention, and you may begin to see what we deal with here. Compare UWM's ratio even to other urban campuses, and then only those urban campuses in residential neighborhoods.

And then you'll see why UWM needs satellite campuses, as so many urban campuses do -- and yet, after all the budget and other battles to finally get the startup funding for satellite campuses here, some neighbors are against that, too.

Go figure. (But first, figure out how the figures are calculated.)

By the way -- no, we're not moving. That's a promise. And we keep our promises, a point you opt to entirely ignore -- that UWM made promises that are not being kept.

And the blame for that is not so much UWM as it is the UW System and Regents responding to neighbors in Madison, who make more noise. So they got their enrollment reduced. So we're making noise -- and about that, you're correct; it shouldn't shock you that we do.

Eric Gunderson said...

Subject: UWM Dorm: Lost Diversity in our Near-neighborhood
>
> A freshman student dorm defines a neighborhood, much of its future development, and who chooses to live in that neighborhood.

> My family spent a decade in the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee neighborhood. For years we watched as families, longtime residents, owner occupants, block watch captains, and other committed residents packed up and left in search of a good nights sleep, glass/garbage free yards, and a more livable neighborhood.

Five years ago my family also fled the UWM neighborhood. We moved across the river to Riverwest and even though we still have a large population of students from MATC, MSOE, Marquette, and UWM, they tend to be older, more familiar with living in the city, and quieter. We have been very impressed with the balance that seemed to evolve here in Riverwest between these mature student residents and the very diverse population of families, working class, and professionals.
>
> Last year the Riverview Dorm (a 488 student Freshman dorm built on parkland along the Milwaukee River) was imposed on Riverwest against the documented objections of over 650 neighbors. In one years time the effect on diversity of that neighborhood, my neighborhood, has been dramatic. An elderly neighbor had her rent raised and had to move out. Her apartment was re-rented to a group of young people. Our city block has suffered the loss of eleven African American neighbors. Two units were families with children that my kids used to enjoy playing with. Unfortunately, the sound of young children playing out front in a racially diverse neighborhood has been replaced with racing cars and motorcycles, cell phone conversations at 2:30am, and horn beeping...the sounds of our new white/teenage/college neighbors.
> I understand the importance of a strong research university for Milwaukee. Perhaps the first research project should be on how UWM can expand without re-engineering the social make-up and diversity of a neighborhood. (economic, race, age, etc.). The effects of a large freshman dormitory in a residential neighborhood are to big to ignore.
>
> Eric Gunderson

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