By PARKER FISH • Special To www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – In the ongoing debate over the behavior of college students in Oneonta, specifically pertaining to OH-Fest, the annual joint college festival, Common Council members still cannot come to an agreement as to what needs to happen, or how to solve the issue of binge drinking in residential areas in the city.
Concerned citizens petitioned once again, pleading for council members to work together to solve the issue sooner rather than later.
“I’ve noticed that we have a huge problem with drinking and drugs. There is actually a store on Main St. that has t-shirts and sweatshirts that have ‘Stoneonta’ printed on them,” said Oneonta High School Sophomore Abigail Dening.
“Is that really what we want our city to be known for? Drinking is okay, as long as it is done responsibly. But among the college students, that doesn’t seem to be what they are aiming for.” Dening’s statement came from an article that she wrote for the OHS newspaper, The Echo. “To solve some of these problems, I would like to see the city be more strict with the colleges,” said the student. ” I understand that they can’t be controlled completely, but the students shouldn’t be so disruptive that it affects the people who actually call Oneonta their home.”
Council member Joseph Ficano spoke up during the council discussion portion of the meeting. “We got here slowly, and I think its going to take some time to reverse this trend,” he said. “As much as I think we would all feel better, ‘yes! Let’s cancel OH-Fest!’ I would feel good for a time, but I don’t think things are going to change that much afterwards. I still think we’re going to be in the same situation. It is a tremendously difficult, complicated challenge and I think we should be very sober about that, it’s going to be very hard.”
Ficano’s sentiment about not being sure how to solve the issue was reiterated by council member Melissia Niccosia.
“People are saying to work with the colleges. But, what does that look like? Other than not having the concert, we can’t make kids stop drinking,” said Nicosia. “That’s not going to make a change, its not going to change anything. Sure, its probably much worse on those days, but its not going to prevent them from drinking, so I don’t even know how you being to conquer that.”
Conversations continued discussing what could be done to prevent student misconduct in city neighborhoods, but a solution still seems to be a long ways away, with more discussion on the matter certain to continue in the future.