March 17, 2008

Opposition

Opposition to the college book store move for 2009 is heating up. The Facebook group "Those Opposed to Barnes and Noble Coming to Raymond Ave/Collegeview Area" has been rapidly gaining members.

"The members of this group feel that more thought and consideration of the unique nature of the area should be bought into consideration before turning Raymond Ave. into yet another carbon copy shopping area," the group states.

It seems that the group's creator is not a Vassar student or alumnus, but a Poughkeepsie resident. Many of the group members are Poughkeepsie residents, as well.

It's a complicated issue and we're not sure where we stand. Wouldn't moving the bookstore get students off campus and therefore contribute to local businesses as opposed to taking away from them? And are all corporations really that bad?

UPDATE: Check out this post's comments for an exclusive and detailed explanation on the building project from Andrew Bennett, a member of the Special Committee on the Juliet and Arlington Bookstore.

UPDATE #2: A public forum regarding the issue will be held in UpC on April 2nd. Some urban studies majors are organizing the forum.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

that group is fucked up. if the bookstore drives away even one local business, it will more than make up for it in the way that it improves the area. it's going to be freakin' sweeeeet!

Anonymous said...

moving the bookstore off campus is a band-aid solution that only artificially forces people to go off campus. as such, i don't think "town/gown relations" are the real motivation behind it.

i actually think they're trying to turn raymond into something of a harvard square. this seems to be part of the progression that started out with the roundabouts (which i actually think were a good idea, because they made raymond a little more pedestrian friendly). difference: the harvard book store is NOT run by B+N!

also, there ARE measures out there that really DO have the transparent goal of fostering relations between students and town, i.e. community shuttle.

summary: i don't think they're moving the bookstore there to make students go off campus.

Sarah said...

I think the problem is that it might not be independently run. Instead, it would be a Barnes and Noble that sells Vassar College books and is right next to a great, local book store (The Three Arts). I don't think the issue is about it moving off campus.

Anonymous said...

i don't understand why some think that putting in a chain store "improves" and area. what good does that do? I would think that if they want to help relationship with nearby merchants they would maybe try to give their businesses more clients/money, Putting in a store where all the money gets sucked up to the man rather than the people that actually live around here? It doesn't make sense with their "goals".

Anonymous said...

maybe we need a discussion about what constitutes "improvement".

7:51 - what do you think constitutes improvement?

Anonymous said...

But the thing to remember is that the current businesses on Raymond Are failing. That arlington district is notoriously under-utilized and that's why so many businesses go under on that block of Raymond.

Putting in a store like that would definitely attract more people from the community. People love barnes and noble stores - they eat em up. It's an atmosphere thing, which unfortunately 3 arts can't deliver. This isn't cynical, it's just true - thats why B&N has like a thousand stores in new york alone.

And realize people.... the Current vassar bookstore is owned and operated by barnes and noble. That has nothing to do with it. It'd simply be bigger and better. And more importantly, it would give us some space down in the College Center for orgs, offices, all sorts of stuff.

The only real downside I see is that 3 arts will definitely go under. That's a piece of shit that the college needs to deal with as 3 arts used to be the official bookstore of Vassar college.

Still though, I would love a nice little area over there instead of that shit block we have.

Anonymous said...

Also, I distinctly remember Cappy's email saying that they hadn't decided whether to extend Barnes and Noble's contract to operate the store once it moved off-campus. So, the new store MAY NOT be a B&N. What do you say to that?

Andrew Bennett said...

As a student intimately involved in Vassar’s decisions regarding the bookstore and Arlington, I would like to clear up a great deal of misinformation that has been spread around. If there are any questions or comments, I would be more than happy to receive them via email at andbennett AT vassar DOT edu.

First and foremost, Vassar is committed to bolstering the Arlington Business Improvement District. The College strives to have a vibrant business community with thriving independent businesses. Moving the bookstore to the Juliet is primarily geared toward increasing foot traffic on Raymond Ave and CollegeView Ave. We hope that bringing students “off campus” will get students to break out of the Vassar bubble and interact more in the local community.

Which leads me to my next point… While the decision has been made to move the bookstore to the Juliet building, no decision has yet been made regarding which company will run the bookstore. Vassar is awaiting business proposals from Barnes & Nobles and independent booksellers. There is a sense that an independent proposal might have an edge over B&N, especially given the expected student and community concern about corporations.

From quite early on in this process, Vassar has consulted Walter Effron of the Three Arts. He had not expressed serious concern about the Vassar bookstore moving to the Juliet. Interestingly enough, however, he has raised objections over an independent bookstore moving to the Juliet once that possibility was brought up. As he sees it, his business might improve with the increased foot traffic to a B&N, but he might be put out of business by another independent bookstore. Mr. Effron is reportedly not interested in having the Three Arts run the Vassar bookstore. In any case, Vassar’s lease to the new bookstore will include provisions that protect the Three Arts by prohibiting the new bookstore from selling books in the Three Arts’s niche markets.

Many students have expressed disdain over a Starbucks moving into the Juliet with a B&N and threatening the other Raymond Ave coffee shops. My understanding is that there will not be a Starbucks in the Juliet, even if the bookstore is a B&N. Those of us involved in the new bookstore decision-making process have considered ways in which the new bookstore can actively work to strengthen the local coffee shops.

I have seen comments complaining that the administration did not solicit student input on the bookstore. This is completely false. The entire campus was surveyed early on, and the results were kept in mind at every step of the way. Moreover, as a member of the Campus Master Planning Committee, I was asked by President Hill last year to serve on a Juliet committee. I consulted extensively with VSA President Abel McDonnell last year. VSA President Sam Charner, VSA VP for Activities Jimmy Kelly, and Jessica Linden Swienckowski have been involved in the process this year. Elizabeth Bock, a member of the Bookstore Advisory Committee that oversees and advises the current bookstore, will be involved in the future. All of us represent the student body on the issue of the new bookstore, and, if I can speak for everyone, student input can and should be sent to any of us.

Many had hoped that we could return to Juliet to its former status as a movie theater. Sadly, this is not to be. The building cannot support a financially viable theater in today’s market.

I hope this information assuages the fears and concerns about moving the bookstore to the Juliet. As I have said before, please contact me to make your voices heard.

Yours,
Andrew Bennett

Special Committee on the Juliet and Arlington
Bookstore of the Future group
Campus Master Planning Committee

Anonymous said...

well another issue that's bothering me about this whole ordeal is what will happen with the current bookstore location...any ideas as to what the space would be replaced it. It would be kind of inconvenient to have to go off campus just to pick up soda cans or tylenol or snacks for example...it's so easy just to walk to the college center

Anonymous said...

everyone keeps complaining about how inconvenient it will be to go "off campus." I don't really need to remind everyone that the Juliet building is ACROSS THE STREET, do I? OMG, so fucking far.

Andrew said...

Also when Juliet Cafe leaves it will be near impossible to get cigarettes after 9:00 pm (on your V-card, no less)! What will half of this campus do??

Anonymous said...

Wise up and stop smoking, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Andrew is totally right. People need to stop bitching about corporations and just deal. Nothing is wrong with Barnes & Noble - I think our current bookstore, run by B&N has lots of good stuff. I don't see a reason to move to an independent company that doesn't have the resources of B&N.

andrew bennett said...

7:56 -- Neither I nor the other Andrew commenting here said that "people need to stop bitching about corporations and just deal." I was trying to suggest that the decision regarding whether to go with B&N or not is more complex that it might appear. I am personally going to wait until I see the business proposals before I choose which I prefer.

4:23 -- The Misc wrote an editorial on the future use of the current bookstore space, which I very much agreed with. The decision comes under the purview of the Space Committee (yes, there's a Space Committee). Regarding finding Tylenol and that sort of thing, I agree that it is too difficult to get simple things like that in walking distance. I have been advocating for having a grocery/convenience store of some sort nearby for quite some time.

Anonymous said...

how great would it be if we could have a starbucks right across the street??? no more "we brew starbucks coffee" stuff. we could get the real stuff!!

Anonymous said...

andrew bennett-
saying that you consulted extensively with two vsa presidents, a vsa vp, and a student rep (or whatever jessica is) is almost like saying "america has spoken" after speaking with george bush and his advisors, or "the chinese people have spoken" after speaking with hu jintao and a couple of his advisors.

so, complaints about the lack of student engagement aren't entirely UNwarranted ... they aren't "completely false". and i think they just speak to a larger issue on campus---->that is, the lack of transparency when it comes to decision making. why didn't we see the survey results? how come we weren't invited to discuss? why was this so hush-hush in nature and why was discussion reserved only for people who were already student leaders? i'm just saying that a real and concerted attempt at gathering student input would have included the larger student body. we're the vsa too.

(see miss claudia martinuzzi's letter to the editor
http://misc.vassar.edu/archives/2008/02/letters_to_the_69.html )

~ a disgruntled senior

Anonymous said...

concur with 10:49pm

andrew bennett said...

10:49 – I think you have a fair point. I went too far when I said that complaints about the lack of student involvement were completely false.

Personally, I am charged to report to the VSA Council. As a member of the Master Planning Committee, I am not responsible for disseminating and collecting information from the entire student body. (Whether I should be is perhaps a question that we could discuss.) Still, I try to talk with the Misc, read and comment on MADS, and talk with any student that will talk to me about the issues I’m involved in. I would love to interact more with the larger student body but doing so is not always easy. Who do I talk to about which issues? To some degree, I need students to approach me if they are interested in particular issues. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I will discuss any Vassar topic with anyone for as long as they desire.

On certain issues, administrators can put student leaders in a tough spot by asking us to keep certain information quiet. I wanted a larger discussion, but I was asked to keep information to myself. To be fair to the administrators, this decision in particular needed to be somewhat confidential given the nature of the issues. (Community relations and real estate issues can be dicey if not handled “professionally” on the part of the College.)

I don’t think that anything would ever get done if we had a dialogue with the entire student body at every step of the process. This is one reason why the VSA is a representative democracy. That said, I agree with you to an extent: I do believe that there should be a more open dialogue.

Yet how do we open the dialogue? I would have set up an open meeting on the bookstore weeks ago if I thought anyone would show up. I would have asked for someone to send more regular campus-wide emails on developments, but most students I have talked to resent the number of emails we get. If you want to have a discussion, I would be more than happy to have it. If you want to see the survey results, I can dig them out of wherever they are hiding in my dorm room and show them to you. It bothers me that you’re disgruntled. I don’t want you to think that your student leadership doesn’t represent you. What should I do to make things more open?

(Sorry for the second super-long post, folks.)

Anonymous said...

gah. i'm so sick of people pretending like the vsa is some massive bureaucracy - the meetings are open to students, the minutes are posted in the college center, and any time i've emailed a vsa rep i always get a prompt reply.

if you really want your voice to be heard, make an effort to direct your concerns.

Anonymous said...

hey 10:49, just because you didn't take the initiative to either run for student government or contact your representative about your concerns doesn't mean that andrew or anyone else in the vsa should be equated to george bush, or some kind of secret conspiracy.

decisions affecting financial matters of the college (i.e. opening a store) are and should be decided by administrators who have degrees and know something about the financial situation of the school. sure students should have a voice, but you can't expect the administration to inform students about every step of every process. that's why we have representatives - just as we have congressmen - who filter student concerns and work with the administration. it seems to me that this bookstore idea has touched at least three different committees that students sit on. no one seems to be working harder on that than andrew bennett. he is constantly giving his time to ensure that student voices are heard. so if you have a grievance you should have contacted your representatives, and not decried them as being part of some major conspiracy when in fact they were elected by the student body at large.

Anonymous said...

to 10:06 am --

10:49 actually has held a student leader role in the past, and happens to live in close proximity to several members of the VSA. I think 10:49 has taken the initiative and knows where to direct an inquiry or concern to the VSA.

The problem that 10:49 is stating is not that the VSA is some sort of bureaucracy or "secret conspiracy." The problem is that for things like this, even though they attempted to gather student input, they (meaning the administration and student leaders) did not do it as effectively as this poster wished. Agreed, it is a large task to charge someone with gathering this sort of input, and Andrew Bennett and other members of the VSA can't talk to every single student. BUT, in my opinion, this sort of discussion and forum that is coming up next month should have taken place before the college decided to go through with this plan 100% as a more effective way of gathering student input.

Your argument clearly misses 10:49's entire point by stating that this issue has been touched on by at least three different committees that students sit on. They may represent us, but, seeing as a large number of students seem surprised (and opposed) to the idea of moving the book store (much less it possibly becoming a Barnes and Noble), these representatives perhaps did not do their jobs well enough in reporting back to the students.

Anonymous said...

i rreeeaallly want a nice big barnes and noble!! how cool would that be? then maybe we could get a starbucks and some decent stores in the area instead of the local crap that they have. it'd be great to get an olive garden or friendly's or something too. better than the stupid comic shop, laundry place and goth clothing store.

Anonymous said...

barnes and noble is gonna be sweet! hopefully it will better that whole area.

i get the whole 'let's be nice to the locals and the mom and pop stores' argument. but it's not like vassar is moving in out of no where. we are the most significant entity in the county, and it certainly serves the college's interests to have a thriving business district. a couple people will go out of business and it'll suck for them, but over the long run, we'll make the area richer. property values will rise, we'll get more large businesses with more products, and visitors to the college will see prosperity instead of what surrounds the college now - not much of anything.

Anonymous said...

"a couple people will go out of business and it'll suck for them"

it upsets me how no one really cares that the livelihood of Poughkeepsie citizens might be sacrificed for something that isn't that necessary. we'll be in and out of Poughkeepsie within 4 years. they're here for the long run. this is bigger than a craving for Starbucks. we have two coffee shops within walking distance. go there instead.

Anonymous said...

9:14 - yes, WE will be out of here in future years, but we should care about the image of the vassar. vassar should be known as attractive and cosmopolitan. cosmopolitan means stores. real stores. not shitty places like dollar stores/vitamin shops. i mean for god sake it looks like we're going to school in the middle of NO WHERE. let's get some real businesses and make the area around our school look as wonderful as the school itself.

Anonymous said...

last comment is totally right. as vassar is the biggest entity in the area, it is responsible for shaping the area to suite its best interests. that means big stores and more wealth

Anonymous said...

why the fuck do we care about the locals? they obviously can't get their shit together and provide good quality stores to surround the college with shops that speak to its greatness and selectivity. barnes and noble would be awesome, people should stop bitching.

Anonymous said...

thats the most selfish thing i've ever heard.
you should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

some of these comments are DISGUSTING. we're only here for four years. we're TRANSITIONAL. and from this discussion, we're stupid pieces of shit.

Anonymous said...

in response... you DO go to school in the middle of no where... and NO vassar is NOT the biggest entity in the area.... really locals don't care that much about vassar or what would be beneficial to the students ONLY and you should care about the people who live here not the people who go to school here for four years

Anonymous said...

the fact that we live here for a shorter time doesn't mean anything. their businesses suck both for us and for future generations. vassar would be better off if richer businesses moved in. this would attract wealthier people to live in the area, tax revenue would increase, schools would get better, more cops to control crime, and in just a decade or two, our college would not be surrounded by the current shit hole.

Anonymous said...

and what about the poor people currently living here?
they're not worth shit, yeah? because they're poor?

Anonymous said...

this is done of our business, we should let the college decide what's best for itself. no student can possibly comment intelligently on financial issues. let people who, you know, have actually graduated college, make these decisions. if they've studied the situation and feel that moving or getting b&n is in the best long-term interests of the college, we're in no position to just bitch about it.

Anonymous said...

i'm sick of all the comments (here and in other places) that say "we're only little kids in college, let the adults decide what is best"

If that is the attitude you have, that we should just sit around not doing anything because other people are in charge, then obviously you haven't been making the best of your Vassar education.

Anonymous said...

1:19, you are quite deluded.

"let people who, you know, have actually graduated college, make these decisions. if they've studied the situation and feel that moving or getting b&n is in the best long-term interests of the college, we're in no position to just bitch about it."

you should go back to kindergarten. you should probably listen to me, because i'm older than you and closer to getting my degree. therefore i am smarter and know more about everything. and am more suited to deciding things.

kthxbai

Anonymous said...

i agree. students shouldn't complain about decisions when they don't know the specifics and reasoning behind them. i doubt vassar would have jumped into a decision like this without considering all of the ramifications. that doesn't mean that we as students don't have the right to ask, but that's why we have a student government and a student newspaper. these are the people who talk to administrators and inform the student body.

zack miller '10 said...

It seems that some of the students commenting here feel that establishing a good image for the college is more important than maintaining a good relationship with the community and fostering the growth of small businesses. Vassar College may be an economic cornerstone for the community, but this only makes us more responsible for the genuine well being of the area and not simply entitled to do with it what we please. If some parents come here and see that this college is placed in an area that has faced some economic hardships and they would rather see their children in a pristine college town, that's unfortunate, but it isn't a good enough reason to betray the best interests of this town for a superficial makeover. If you depend on mass-produced coffee and homogenous shopping environments to have a good college experience I feel sorry for you, but I'm really grateful that it isn't your decision.

Anonymous said...

zach - it's not the coffee itself, it's the image of the coffee. every large business entity cannot simply consider only the well-being of the world around it ("let's have lots of cheapo little mom and pop stores owned by local yocals who haven't produced anything worthwhile yet!")

seriously, there are two upscale businesses in the community right now - that fancy jewelry store, and babycakes. at least the vitamin shop looks clean and well-kept. everything else looks dirty, and not the kinds of places that should be associated with one of the country's most prestigious colleges. if we attract richer businesses to the area, it IS in the long-term interests of Arlington and Poughkeepsie. it will make the whole area richer over time, which helps both the future locals and the college.

Anonymous said...

OMG people need to stop complaining about the fucking locals. if they can't affect change through their elected government or through economic means, it's certainly not vassar's job to make sure that every little townie is happy and contented. it's our job to make vassar as wonderful a place as possible, and that includes more nearby big shopping outlets.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like a lot of people are in favor of attracting "richer businesses" and richer people to the area in order to promote both the image of the college and the economic growth of the town, but I think they're forgetting that the businesses that already exist aren't faceless poor entities. They have people behind them, and bringing in upscale businesses is going to put them out. Where will they go? Bringing in businesses with more money is, as another poster said, a band-aid solution, not only of getting kids of campus, but for economic growth of the area. The locals here are either going to end up working for these large shops that come in (probably at the same low wages they're getting now), or having to travel even further for work. This would only further the dichotomy between the owning class and the working class that exists now, which would not really solve the problems of their economic growth, and only fulfill Vassar's goals of economic growth.

Anonymous said...

if we attract upscale businesses, they'll sell more expensive products.
And not everyone can afford that.
Especially not the people of poughkeespie.
Also, calling them "yocals" is extremely derogatory. Just because they're not upper class white Americans does NOT make them yocals.

Android said...

1:13 --

No, I won't "stop complaining about the fucking locals." I won't let rich inconsiderate WASPs push them around.

If it's our job to make Vassar as wonderful a place as possible, it DOESN'T necessarily mean more shopping outlets. That's YOUR idea of a wonderful place to live. Well, I happen to like not having a bunch of shopping outlets across the street. Go to the damn mall. It's a 10-minute drive.

Community integration DOES NOT mean creating a new community of rich people and pushing the poor people out.

Furthermore, you're blaming the people for the inadequacies of their government. If that's the case, I should blame you for Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

Many local people here are in a disadvantaged economic situation that spans generations, and blaming them for not having enough money to make change is just appalling. Why don't you just blame African-Americans for the discrimination they face?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Yet another small issue that everyone is making a huge deal about. It's fine to be concerned about a new business moving in, but does it really have to start a whole political debate?

It might not even be a Barnes and Noble. Why don't you wait until the committee actually reaches a decision?

As it is, the businesses over there aren't doing so well. The Cubbyhole is in danger of closing, for example. Bringing in a new, larger business at this point can really only help the area. It WILL BRING people over there. You can't possibly argue with that. It will.

Changing the purpose of the Juliet space isn't going to turn the area into a shopping outlet. Constructing a round-about isn't going to either.

This isn't about corrupt government or class issues. It's about ONE new business moving into a space that isn't doing so well right now.

I'm not necessarily in favor of the bookstore move, but the fact is, it's NOT A BIG DEAL.

Do people only read this blog to argue?

Android said...

So the bookstore moving may not be a big deal, but what IS a big deal is how this issue is exposing the attitudes of students, what they think the purpose of the college in the community should be, and their (some of them) blatant indifference to things like class issues that don't affect them as members of the elite, empowered, and educated upper class.

Fine, changing the purpose of the Juliet won't make the Arlington Business District into a shopping center, but that's not even what a lot of us are arguing about anymore. I'm concerned with how people are portraying this area as a shit hole (as good or bad as it may actually be) and their desire to change it by means of bringing in richer businesses and richer people, not actually fixing the problems that areas and the people who live there face, and actually, just ignoring them.

Anonymous said...

This is the most insane argument. We're not paying $40,000 a year to live in a community of yocals - yes I said that horrible derogatory word. Our student body is largely upper class, if not by virtue of our economic situation than by virtue of our education that will directly increase our incomes after college. We deserve to be surrounded by an area that matches our elite reputation. Let's not put faces on people who 99% of the student body could care less about. Po-Town needs to be gentrified and ASAP.

Anonymous said...

man i can't even express how much this area sucks. fuck the locals and their economic blah blah blah. i want fucking stores.

Anonymous said...

I am paying to get an education. Not to live in fucking ignorant suburbian bliss. I actually WORK in poughkeespie. As in, I leave campus to go out and actually see the people around them. As a result, I don't see them as lower class garbage that should be pushed aside for the repuation of a school. And don't assume that everyone else feels the same way that you do. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a facebook group. With 300 members.
And yes, thats not a huge proportion, but I'm sure there are others.


And just so you know, I spoken to A LOT of people who chose not to come to Vassar because they perceive us as "snobs." Which I've found to be somewhat true: there is a disproportiantely large number of elitist upper class snobs who really don't know much about the lifestyle, oh, 90% of America. So I don't see how making the surrounding area just as snobby will help the college's rep. Its thoughts like yours that represent whats wrong with this huge class divide in America.

Anonymous said...

it's not snobbery. it's moving a bookstore to a different location.

Anonymous said...

Okay, President Hill has repeatedly stated that she wants to make better community relations a hallmark of her tenure. Given that, why would she push this bookstore unless she had her staff study the situation to determine the best course of action? She wouldn't Obviously, she has determined through research - which as far as I can tell no one on this blog has done - that this bookstore will benefit the Arlington community, and by extension Vassar.

Let's remember - it's not our job, or the president's, or anyone connected with the college to worry about a bunch of locals. They are important to us only in so far as their happiness makes the college environment better. If the administration has studied the situation and determined that this bookstore will accomplish these goals, we have every reason to believe that everybody will win.

Anonymous said...

you know what's stupid about the locals hating vassar? we frequent their shops, we don't vandalize, we're amicable, the simple existence of a top tier liberal arts school in proximity to their homes increases their property value tremendously, but they STILL HATE US and call us ungrateful and unfriendly.

vassar has been here since before the land was developed. if someone wants to move in nearby, have a house with a decent property value, have a place for their families to walk around or see art, have a place for their kids to see a sports game or interact with top performing students, and have an incentive for their children to come to and get into vassar, they should stop bitching.

Anonymous said...

12:51, way to post the most self-congratulatory post i have ever seen. especially: "have a place for their kids to see a sports game or interact with top performing students" - i laughed. hey, let's start giving out autographs!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, am I just incredibly tired, or are some people actually blaming many of the Poughkeepsie locals for being poor?

And here I thought I was going to college with some of the brightest minds in the country. My mistake. Thank god I'm graduating. The rest of you can have fun avoiding the poor people as you walk all the way across the fucking street to get your books. Life is so hard for Vassar kids.

Nick. M said...

The only reasons the locals (or yokels as many of you have chosen to misspell/use) "hate" Vassar students (also a highly ignorant argument) is because of the sentiment of many of the people that have posted on this blog. Although most of you will only live in this "middle of nowhere" large city for 4 years of your lives, it is a mark of your college and own personal excellence and character as to how you contribute to your community for those years, among all the other things you will do throughout your college careers.

If it is your choice to be an upper-class, rich kid snob, and look down upon the local community as below you and dingy, then do so, but realize just how much more that deepens an unnecessary divide between a community and business district that exists to cater to you, and depends upon your patronage. Vassar students make decision about the area with their own purchasing power, if you want to see the area improve, then allow businesses to make that revenue to do so. If this hateful, ignorant sentiment against the city that you call home is truly that of some of the brightest minds of our college youth (so Vassar's reputation states), then I am truly scared for our world's future.

Furthermore, why post anonymously? Why not stand by your own words? Your character is defined by your words, actions, and the mark you leave anywhere you go, be it for 4 years or 40. Why be so selfish and ignorant as to care so little about a district that exists for your benefit? Would you do the same were you in your own hometown?

The local businesses in this supposed "middle of nowhere" town (which implies you've never left campus to actually see the city you reside in) care about Vassar students and their contribution. The only reason that there is some resentment toward the campus, is evident in the ignorant comments and views toward Poughkeepsie expressed right above this post.
If you dislike this area so much, why did you choose to go here? If you don't like the current area, why haven't you done anything to bring about logical and intelligent change? Four years is certainly a long enough time to begin to make waves. Please folks, think for a few brief moments before you post, and if you do, stand by your words in open forums and other settings if you truly mean them. Otherwise, just stay silent.

Sean K '11 said...

I'd like to start by pointing out how "black and white"-ly this issue is being argued. None of the arguing points, from the pluses and minuses of having a large B&N to to rights of and concerns regarding Poughkeepsie residents, are as simple as "B&N is horrible for local businesses" or "Vassar students are too snobby and don't care enough about the local business owners." Furthermore, even the socioeconomic status of Poughkeepsie residents isn't so straightforward. It's condescending of us to assume that, among other things, they need us to protect them and look out for their interests, or that they begrudge us for having a little more money (which, FYI, isn't necessarily the case) or opportunity.

First, the bookstore. As far as Barnes and Noble coming in and hurting the Three Arts or any other local businesses, well, that is (for better or worse) how capitalism works. If enough Vassar students care about local stores to support them over B&N, then it's a moot point. The bottom line with local stores, upscale stores, and every store is that we decide who stays and who goes by our expenditures. If you don't like the idea of B&N, get your books somewhere else, organize your friends to collectively boycott, whatever - arguing over whether the store will go in or not, while of some import, isn't as big of a deal as where you spend your money. That holds true for ALL of the businesses on Raymond. They're still there (or they go out of business) largely based upon the expenditures of Vassar students. Complaining about whether a business should stay or go is moot if you, to use the old phrase, put your money where your mouth is. Local business owners might be worried, because it's competition. Personally, having been rather screwed by Babycakes' prices (and they have every right to charge what they do, since they have a monopoly on classy food in walking distance) I welcome some competition. It's capitalism.

Finally, the problems Poughkeepsie residents face. First off, it's important to remember that we don't have castes here - it's not as if those born into poor families or lower socioeconomic status are helpless or forced to stay where they are their whole lives. Residents have made their decisions regarding schooling, lifestyle, and in general how they live - it's VERY presumptuous of us to assume that they're unhappy where they are, or to play the knight in shining armor, trying to sweep in and "raise them up" from their lifestyle. Just the idea that they need any raising or looking out for shows classism among those very commenters who are so outspoken in favor of resident's concerns. Everyone makes choices about their lives, and it's not our place to judge those choices or say that they're better or worse than the choices we've made. That's about it for now.

If you have anything you want to say, be nice about it, but email me: sekoerner@vassar.edu