President at the Party

Quinnipiac's leader shows up at a loud off-campus student party, to the delight of attendees. When video of the event circulates, his comments infuriate local leaders.

 

April 29, 2015

Like many colleges and universities with students who live off campus, Quinnipiac University sometimes struggles to maintain good relations with its nonstudent neighbors, who don't like loud student parties and fear that the local college will buy up the neighborhood.

So when word spread (with accompanying video) that the university's president, John L. Lahey, attended a raucous off-campus party this weekend and cheered the students on, the reaction from local leaders was intense and negative. And when the video showed the president joking about having the university buy up more houses in the neighborhood, the reaction got even worse. He also praises the students for having the kind of party that he says he tried to ban in years past.

 

 

Students responded by chanting his name. But that wasn't the reaction from local leaders.

Leslie Creane, a local town planner, told The New Haven Register that she has “not gotten as many emails in such a short time on any matter since I worked for the town as I have about this.” She added, “The fact is that the president did not in any way recognize that this is an issue for people who live around the location, and recognize that this issue is the kind of thing that people have been complaining about for years. That he participated as a de facto partner by attending and celebrating in a residential neighborhood under circumstances that have been facing the town and the university for years shows an unfortunate and disappointing arrogance on the part of the university.”

Other political and civic leaders chimed in, saying that the size and noise of the party in a residential area is a perfect example of why many in the area don't want students living near them. The party that the president attended and endorsed resulted in two visits by the police to respond to noise complaints (after he left).

When the local NBC station first broadcast video of the party (which, along with photos, circulated on social media), a university spokesperson said that “we have a university president who likes and understands young people.” But as controversy grew Tuesday, the university stopped talking about the incident. A spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed that Quinnipiac was not commenting.

Press reports said it was unclear why Lahey showed up.

While local officials criticized his appearance at the event, Lahey won praise from many of the students who attended (and who cheered him on) and from the website Total Frat Move.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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