Lorraine Bogart Desrosiers: Lament over what we can’t change
HADLEY — Many thanks to Peter Snedecor for being yet another rational voice against the madness of local student behavior in the Amherst area (guest column, “Amherst and UMass: Breakdown of social order,” March 22).
Yes, people have died during the binges and mob behavior — and still it goes on.
It is, in fact, as Snedecor suggests, worsening.
As a previous owner of Amherst rental property, I have evicted destructive, vomiting and partying students, engaged parents and participants and generally wrung my hands. I am still wringing my hands. Nothing seems to work and there are underlying reasons that are beyond fines, threats of expulsion, jail stays and increased policing.
They include the sacrifice of profit on the part of those serving or selling alcohol, the threat of income loss to institutions of learning and to landlords restricting tenancies. The situation is barbaric and nothing written in newspapers or discussed among the parties will make a real difference. While some admirable efforts are made by well-meaning individuals and groups, the situation not only continues to be destructive, but worsens.
This set of problems and these particular issues are no different from what takes place in the rest of the world, now and historically. They have led to disdain for peaceful order or meaningful change everywhere.
What our young students have not yet learned is how to control selfish behavior. They have not fully matured and are still learning about themselves and the world they live in — and they are learning from the same people they are offending.
We could suggest that our institutions and towns toughen their positions, or that parents be made to take responsibility for their children’s behavior. We could suggest a compendium of changes.
No, wait, I and others have already done that, publicly and privately. The world can’t control the destructive impulses of others, so perhaps we must expect the same failure here.
One of the benefits of a long life is that you finally begin to understand humanity and realize that not much changes. The bullies and miscreants of the world, along with those who look the other way, will be with us always. What can be done? Apparently and disturbingly, nothing.
Lorraine Bogart Desrosiers of Hadley is the retired owner of Amity Real Estate Inc., a former Amherst Town Meeting and Finance Committee member and longtime member of the Amherst Club.