Like many in my community, it has been upsetting to say the least, at the lack of respect and decorum of our college community during this past week.
The behavior that has been illustrated on Eaton Street and in other areas of our City is in opposition to nearly every guideline our State health officials have put forth to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Our colleges and universities are community partners, but in this instance, their response and their actions have failed us and put our residents at risk.
Selfish behavior by these students also put our public safety officials in harm’s way and took them away from other duties.
I understand that graduating from college is a pivotal moment in a young person’s life, but we are living under a different set of circumstances. This behavior is abhorrent, and my concern for my neighbors does not end today, but what happens when these leases turn over and a new crop of off-campus students come into our neighborhoods? I am asking our College and University partners to explain how they are going to help mitigate this type of behavior from continuing.
The summer months are quickly approaching, and the virus might slow down, but it is far from over. We need to have a plan to keep our residents and our public safety officials safe. Young people are not immune to this virus. They could be asymptomatic carriers and not even know it. They could be moving here from areas that are still considered “hot spots,” and if this behavior continues it could make our cases – which are already at the top in the state – continue to grow rather than decrease.
I will be working with my colleagues to pass legislation requiring our City’s colleges and universities to provide a mitigation plan to keep our off-campus students and neighbors – many of whom who have lived in our neighborhoods for generations – safe as we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic and our “new normal.”
Jo-Ann Ryan, Majority Leader
Providence City Council
Councilwoman – Ward 5