To an over-capacity crowd of around 40 CSB/SJU students, four SJU seniors presented on the city ordinences to the St. Joe City Council on April 18.
Kevin Wenner, Dan Pesek, Shane Schiavo and Sam Dittberner presented three points to the Council in reaction to the recent implementation of the city ordinances. The group was allowed 20-minutes and a place on the Council’s agenda. The students also met with Mayor Rick Schultz before the meeting to discuss the topics they presented.
“This community is unrivaled. We would like to work with you more. We would like to work with you … anything we can do to create alternatives and create the environment that we have loved the past three and a half years,” Wenner said.
First, they hope to improve the communication between CSB/SJU students and the St. Joe community. They suggested two solutions to the Council: un-paid student city internship, a student position that would run the Council’s social media pages, as well as the Council publishing ads or their meeting’s minutes in The Record.
Council member Steve Frank mentioned he previously discussed creating an internship position and agrees that it is a good idea.
“I have been pushing for interns since day one,” Frank said.
Second, the four students presented their disapproval of the new keg ordinance. Pesek stated that when a keg is bought from Sal’s they have their own registration system, and many landlords live miles away, which makes it difficult to obtain the proper signatures.
“We see it as an unnecessary measure,” Pesek said.
The students’ third point centered on reducing the misdemeanor penalty. They were most concerned with the social host ordinance and believed the new punishment does not fit the crime. Schiavo told a story where he had received a visit from the St. Joe City Police for a noise complaint. He received a $100 fine, accepted the consequences and learned his lesson.
“We don’t want to be a nuisance for the city of St. Joseph. The past four years have been the best four years of my life,” Schiavo said. “With these ordinances, I do feel that the community aspect is being jeopardized. I think this also draws a strong divide between policy makers, the police force and students.”
The seniors also addressed being seniors and why they chose to present to the Council.
“I have had the greatest three and half years of my life here, I want this to continue for the juniors and the sophomores,” Dittberner said. “We want this to get resolved. We want to work together collectively.”
City Council member Renee Symanietz questioned the group as to why they didn’t attend the meeting on Jan. 3 in which the council discussed the implementation of the ordinances. The students replied this meeting was over winter break.
“We do feel like there is a need for some reform and regulation there. We feel that it can be done in a more friendly way,” Schiavo said.
The Council also mentioned that other cities throughout Minnesota have similar city ordinances. Frank advised students to look into these other cities and the effects of the guidelines. Schiavo disagreed that CSB/SJU is similar to these other places.
“We are comparing apples to oranges. Any of those schools I don’t think have that sense of community and connection from the student body to the city,” Schiavo said.
Schultz said City Administrator Judy Weyrens and Police Chief Peter Jansky will be connecting with the city attorney and prosecution services to obtain their recommendations on the ordinances. The Council will also begin to draft ideas for social media use and publishing city notices with The Record. He states that if this becomes a cost issue it may not happen.
“Any changes except perhaps cost-free Record publications will need the approval of the majority of the city council,” Schultz said.
Schultz also mentioned that students should notify the CSB/SJU administration on improving communication between the two parties.
Wenner believes their presentation was successful in achieving their goals.
“The Mayor has already personally thanked us and many of the City Council members appreciated us voicing our thoughts,” Wenner said.
Wenner stated that time is a major factor in the decisions moving forward. He believes that because the ordinances were implemented two months ago, it is not realistic to think that changes will be made this year. A St. John’s graduate Joel Klein is replacing Jansky in one month, which will also bring changes. He acknowledges that Klein will be a figure students will have to work with in the future.
” … The four of us, along with the rest of the senior class, are only stakeholders in this for three more weeks,” Wenner said. “Yet we are still doing anything and everything we can to see that every past, present and future CSB/SJU can come to St. Joe and make countless memories.”