Friday, October 5, 2007

Working Together

A couple of months ago we established a Street Crimes Unit to help attack what we saw as an increase in criminal activity that must be stopped before it grew to large. Some of those looking for any issue this election season have attatched themselves to crime, claiming that Troy is unsafe, and abusing statistics to prove a point.

What they have failed to do is mention that Troy remains the safest large City in the Capital District, and will remain that way for a long time. And while the results of the Street Crimes Unit (140+ arrests, 45 felonies in a little more than two months) have been terrific, there is obviously more work to be done.

That work can be accomplished through great teamwork. Below is a letter written by the the Student Body President at RPI, which was printed in this week's issue of the Poly. I think it speaks volumes of what needs to continue to take place in the future.

Enjoy Troy

If there's one thing we seem to be universally good at these days, it's complaining about Troy. Everyone seems to have their unique conglomerate of grievances, including, but in no way limited to: the cleanliness of the streets, crime, the purported lack of things to do and the hostility of Troy residents. In the interest of full disclosure, I am writing this having just enjoyed a pulled-pork sandwich and a teaspoon of locally-produced raw honey (a remedy for certain seasonal allergies) from the Troy Farmers Market after spending Saturday morning traipsing around the aforementioned unclean, crime-infested, boring downtown. And the people who sold them to me were extremely personable.

The Farmers Market is just one of the many things that I have found here to enjoy in Troy in the past three years. There are more restaurants and cafes than I can count, and to date, I am still working on visiting all of them. In fact, something to watch for in the upcoming months is off-campus, a project that the Student Senate’s Community Relations Committee has been working on, which will allow us to use Rensselaer Advantage Dollars in Troy businesses.

There are more and more parts of Troy I feel safer walking around in. Yes, this is a function of the amount of time I've been here, but the improvement in those three years has been far from insignificant.Troy has come a long way during the past three years I have walked its streets and visited its shops. When the recent alert was issued about the sudden increase in attacks on RPI students, an initial thought I had was to remark that our safety when traveling around Troy had improved significantly, in general, because crimes of this magnitude weren’t seen with such frequency in the past few years.

Nevertheless, I picked up the phone and called the Mayor's Office. I was told by Mayor Tutunjian that he'd been monitoring the situation, and that even before my call, the decision had been made to step up the police presence around our campus with the specific goal of capturing the perpetrators. This made me happy for two reasons: it showed that the Mayor himself was concerned about our safety and that proactive measures were already being taking toward solving the problem. I'm incredibly grateful for both his response and his concern, and pleased to know that the City of Troy is looking out for us.

This is a two-way street, however, and as students, we must be careful and use common sense, like avoiding walking alone at night—something that should be followed no matter where you are. Additionally, if you see any suspicious persons, report them immediately to Public Safety or the Troy Police Department.We must not only remember this can happen in any neighborhood, but also, what we can do to improve this city we live in, if only for four or five years. Every day we wake up here, we are Trojans too. If each of us picked up a single piece of litter on the walk to campus each day, Troy would sparkle. This isn't to say that there aren't more significant improvements that need to be made, but unlike the conditions of a few dilapidated buildings or an increase in criminal activity, this is something we have total control over.

There is some hostility on between Troy residents and RPI students. Some residents are going to be irrational and dislike us regardless of what we do. There are absentee landlords who must (and will) be dealt with. I'm an optimist, however, and I believe that there's a lot we can accomplish on our own to develop better relationships with our neighbors. If we are kind to them, they will respond with the same kindness.

For instance, our neighbors might not know the agony of staying awake for forty consecutive hours working on an Introduction to Engineering Design project (and the jubilation experienced after the course is over), most of us have yet to experienced the joy of waking up at 5am for work after barely sleeping because our young neighbors spent the night throwing a huge party that didn't end until 4am.

There are several Greek houses that stand as superb examples of RPI students being good neighbors. In fact, contrary to popular belief, I'm told by the Dean of Students that the majority of complaints are against private residences. This isn't to say that you need to mow your neighbor's lawns or shovel their driveways after a heavy Troy snowfall; it just means treating the neighborhood with the same respect we'd treat our own roommates and property, even if we are only renting the apartment or house for a year or two.

I commend those who have been partnering with other RPI students or local groups to improve this. We should all be doing our share. So next time you see a piece of garbage, whether on or off campus, pick it up and deposit in one of the many trash receptacles around Troy. We’ll see a significant change in environmental cleanliness within a week.

Enjoy Troy, and email me with any ideas, thoughts, comments, or questions at


That is a well thought out letter that says a two important things. We've made some strides, but have a long way to go. It is a message I am constantly preaching. I am pleased to see others that believe it to be the case.

Have a great weekend.