By MICHAEL RUKAVINA
OBSERVER Staff Writer
Last year representatives from the SUNY Fredonia campus met with members of the Fredonia Village Board asking for their support in bringing back the campus and community coalition. The coalition has since completed an entire school year and held its first meeting for the current semester in early September.
The broad-based group of campus and community representatives meets about four times a semester to discuss "town and gown" issues related to alcohol, drugs, substance abuse, general good-neighbor policy and apartment conditions, to name a few.
"It has always existed in some fashion. Probably for the last 15 years, there's been some kind of regular meetings between the campus and community members. Alcohol and other drug issues are not things that can be tackled by one organization or one group," said Julie Bezek, convener of the group Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator at SUNY Fredonia. "When you look at the research it's really the community approach and the community collaboration approach of looking at this from a multi-disciplinary and multi-faceted way of thinking about this. There's not one agency or department in there that can help solve these problems on their own. You have to take a team approach and look at each way, how each of the people on the coalition and how their areas can have a positive impact to create a healthier and safe community."
Bezek said a lot of what transpires at the coalition meetings is just that - a sharing of ideas and a sharing of information to help promote the working relationships and the communication between the campus and the community.
"We know the actions of our students off campus do affect community residents and what happens in the community affects our students here. It's important we have regular meetings and good lines of communication, and also, sometimes knowing about resources I think is one of the great things about it," she said. "We review educational programs, policies and laws, we look at enforcement issues or neighborhood issues and if there are certain streets that appear to be having issues. We also look at issues of what types of alcohol violations are happening in the town, what types of noise laws and violations. Then we look to see if we have enough availability of late night alcohol-free programming, and also partnering with bar owners and making sure there are responsible beverage practices."
Campus and Community members typically include: David Herman, Vice President of Student Affairs; Ann Burns, Chief of University Police; Brad Meyers, Chief of Police in the Village of Fredonia; John Monaco, Village Code Enforcement Officer; Michelle Twitchell, resident; Jacqueline Penfold-Williams, village trustee; and Julie Franco, director of services at the Chautauqua Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council (CASAC).
"We do include representatives from the Fredonia high school, typically a school counselor; Pastor Cynthia Wickwire Lundquist; usually two representatives from the Student Association, the on-campus student government; and Brooks Memorial Hospital if they're able to send an ER nurse or nurse manager," Bezek said.
Fredonia village representatives have been bringing with them, aside from what they hear in the community, ideas about a joint effort for security cameras in heavily trafficked areas.
"The village will proceed to place cameras in various areas to monitor and protect village infrastructure," said Mayor Michael Sullivan of the project. "Since the costs are down we can do some of this work without the need to bid each camera, and since we will not need to bid, we will not wait any longer for our consultant to return. We recently decided to contact DFT communications to get started."
Dr. David Herman, vice president student affairs at SUNY Fredonia said after the estimates come in, the two sides can sit down and discuss locations if installed in a joint effort.
"The college of course would help with some of that if it was related to the college," he said.
"Obviously cameras for increased security would be helpful when there are certain acts of vandalism or things like that on Temple and Central," Bezek added. "Some of the areas that continue to be yearly concerns are issues with noise violations and large house parties; and streets and areas where we might have concerns about because there seems to be a large concentration of student housing or large parties. Then sewer violations and the noise level when students are walking back from the bars on Central and Temple, and are the residents of those experiencing acts of vandalism or are there other issues that need to be addressed?"
In working toward solutions for those issues, Bezek said the number one aid is the sharing of information which is happening on a constant basis.
"I think through the sharing of information, sharing about police reports and things like that and if there are specific houses of concern and how are those issues are being addressed in the campus disciplinary process or through the police department and enforcement issues," she said.
The coalition will be meeting again in October with the time and date to be announced in the near future. Meetings are held at the counseling center in LoGrasso Hall. Next month the coalition will welcome in for discussion a representative from the State Liquor Board.
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