Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Why we have the ‘damn kids’ bylaws in Amherst

Dear University of Massachusetts student,

The town of Amherst doesn’t like you very much, and there aren’t too many reasons why it should like you at all.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Just take a look at the town’s collection of bylaws that are stacked up to account for college students living off campus – what I call the ‘damn kids’ bylaws. The most recent example of such legislation is the recent rise in citations and police presence for noise and drinking for students living off-campus. Just look at the 229 percent increase in nuisance house offenses during the past year.

Besides the nuisance house bylaw, the other blatant bylaw is the “Four Unrelated Bylaw” that prevents large groups of students from living together. According to the Amherst bylaws, a single housing unit (an apartment) must be occupied by a family, or “a group of unrelated individuals, not to exceed four, residing cooperatively in one dwelling unit.”

In this particular case, the bylaw is usually not enforced as long as there isn’t a blatant issue. Unless, of course, you’re ratted out by your neighbors, like five female students were back in spring of 2009. While this is a pretty extreme example, the incident two years ago is indicative of the attitudes that exist toward students in the college community in that they’re pretty damn negative.

To be fair, though, let’s look at the other side of this.

Put yourself in the position of a 40-year-old resident of Amherst with a spouse and maybe a kid or two (scary, I know). Every fall and spring, this horde of loud, boisterous, privileged college students show up, clog up traffic, keep you up with their loud music and urinate on your lawn.

Now, you get the option to vote for a bylaw that would help keep it quieter when you’re trying to sleep, raise taxes for the town and, most importantly, get those damn kids to simmer down. Why would you not vote for that?

 UMass Amherst is the symbol of the town of Amherst. That giant brick library isn’t going away anytime soon. Despite being a separate entity, the town of Amherst gets lumped in with a nationally known college that still goes by “ZooMass.” Unfortunately, the residents of Amherst are getting some of that label, even if they never set foot on campus.

The town of Amherst is a small, liberal community that has its own issues to deal with. The people that vote don’t buy kegs. The people that vote don’t play music and party until 4 a.m. They certainly don’t drink Four Loko, but for that one, though, you’ll have to complain to the State House.

The residents of Amherst are focused on things like supporting their families, getting their kids through elementary school, sustaining the police and fire departments and taxes. They don’t care if your buddy Sean can’t chip in for rent for crashing in the living room, or whether or not you get busted for your wicked bomb Jersey Shore party.

It’s not easy to sympathize with people who think they have it tough with midterms, frienemy drama or having to wake up for an 8 a.m. class when you yourself have to be at work at 7 a.m. and pay taxes to Uncle Sam. Oh, and another student broke a bottle on the driveway – so much for the kids playing basketball safely.

Believe it or not, even in apartment complexes like the Townehouses of Amherst or the Puffton Village, non-students actually live there, like the very nice lady who returned my lost phone from the parking lot near Townehouse Building Two three years ago.

In the end, the contrast between the town and school is always going to be harsh one. People say that UMass is like its own city, and to a great extent, it is.  This of course, presents a strange situation when that pseudo-city is parked right in the middle of a rural town. Heck, you can see the farms from campus.

Amherst can’t survive without UMass at this point. Economically speaking, they’re joined at the hip. But they’ll be damned if they can’t complain about it. On the other hand, students who want to be part of the club scene and stay up all night probably should’ve gone to school in the city. Not to mention they actually have clubs there (and reliable taxis, too).

What we can draw from this relationship is that, once students move off campus, they’re in the town’s territory and jurisdiction. Unless, of course, students register to vote in Amherst. That’ll be the day.

Nick O’Malley is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

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    old guyApr 4, 2011 at 11:28 am

    well written..I like “damn kids” and would’ve also accepted “get off my lawn!”