Yesterday I watched the movie We Are Marshall about a new coach who rebuilds the Marshall University football team after the 1970 plane crash that killed 37 football players and all but one of the coaches. As I watched it I wondered if such a thing could happen here in Bloomsburg, a small college town. I am not talking about the tragic loss of life, but about the town's reaction to it. In We Are Marshall you see how the town morned the death of these student-athletes together with the university and how they rallied behind the new football team.
It is is hard for me to imagine such a thing happening here because the relationship between the Town and the Gown have been strained for years. In fact, the Bloomsburg Town Council recently passed an ordinance which requires a distance of a football field between student housing and residential areas. This means that landlords who rent houses to BU students will no longer be able to do so and will therefore be deprived of a valuable source of income. And because BU students are the largest group of people who move to this area a number of houses will be left unoccupied since the landlords simply will not have enough tenants to rent to. This also means that Bloomsburg will become, for the first time in the 21st Century America, a segregated town.
I should also say that the BU students have done some things that caused the town, its Police Department, and the Town Council a lot of grief. I, as an alumnus, am not proud of all the obnoxious drinking and partying that takes place during a Spring tradition called The Block Party. I have never understood or attended it, but locking the students away and throwing away the key, to coin a phrase, is not an answer. I am sure that a long term compromise is better than a drastic measure put in place to make a few residents happy. BU students live and spend their money here and without their money the local economy will suffer.
5 days ago