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It’s difficult to come into a heated altercation after it’s already begun. It’s like when a teacher comes out into the hall and two kids are rolling around on the ground, scratching and cussing, trying to get a good right hook in at the other. Meanwhile, everybody else in the hall gathers round and starts screaming. Most of those circled round don’t know what happened, but suddenly think they have a vested interest because they kinda know one of the kids in the fight.
The teacher steps in and tries to break it up without ending up with a bloody nose. Who started the fight? It doesn’t matter. Surely, neither side is completely innocent. It likely stems from an ongoing problem that boiled over into the melee. And all the teacher has to go on is the ugly, probably bruised and bloody, fight that just took place for all to see.
That’s how the Towson University – Community verbal, legal, legislative battle royal has devolved in the last two years. My poor classmate David Kosak is trying to catch up on the issue for his blog, MDistrict 42. Amid his interest in local politics, it became evident that this is the overarching issue. Just like that teacher trying to break up the fight, David is coming into this after while the two sides are fully engaged in the battle. I saw him at the Master Plan Update meeting last week. He attended a smaller, community association meeting earlier this week. He’s offered his views on the issue.
“The university helps stabilize the community while the university benefits from the quality of its neighborhoods who insulate the campus. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way this understanding was lost. Each side blinded by their own initiatives forgot to consult the other. Sadly, the long-standing marriage hit a rough patch and each is shouting for a divorce. Instead of boisterous complaints and newspaper headlines, each needs to sit down and sort their differences. The partnership worked in the past, why are we so ready to abandon it now?”
For the full post, check here: MDistrict 42
David has encapsulated the whole situations pretty well here. Both parties at odds here need one another to survive. Towson would not be the political hub with a vibrant economic base of small businesses and upper-middle class housing if it weren’t for the University. Its presence alone increases the value of the neighborhood. At the same time, without the support the community, the University will struggle. As new football coach Rob Ambrose keeps trying to encourage the community to invest in the athletic department, more neighbors turn up their nose at the thought of endorsing an institution they view as destructive to their livelihood.
Who started the fight? Who took the first swing?
There is no law, no moral line that states students shouldn’t be allowed to live in residential communities. For years two houses behind mine in Arbutus has been filled with a rotation of UMBC students. They have a few parties, but nothing gets too raucous. There are surely problem houses out there, but to say all students behave in such a manner is absurd.
Should the University have found better ways to work with community leaders to establish a relationship of mutual understanding and cooperation long before any of these issues developed? A little foresight couldn’t have hurt.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who threw the first punch. At some point, both sides need to accept the position each is in and work toward a reasonable conclusion. Smear campaigns such as WeAreTowson.com aren’t making the situation any easier. My further extraction of the site’s integrity will come later, but that’s another blog post.

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One Comment

  1. Amen… this is the first somewhat sane thing i have heard in regards to this issue. i think everyone needs to stop and take a deep breath. its gotten to a point where both kids in the fight arent even sure why they are fighting anymore. people are entititled to their issues but community members now are yelling and screaming just because it feels like thats what they are supposed to be doing. and the university is trying to turn the other cheek simply because they are tired of the noise…


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