The Associated Students of CSU’s boycott of Old Town Friday night to protest the city’s occupancy ordinance U+2 was met with resounding indifference from the student body.
Only 200 students showed up to the Ramskeller, 400 fewer than anticipated and about 24,758 less than the number of students affected by the ordinance, also known as 3-Unrelated. Just fewer than 100 letters were written to City Council members.
When I got to the ‘Skeller just before midnight, the party was pretty much over. I wrote a letter to my council member and talked with a few people about why they had come. Most genuinely opposed the 3-Unrelated ordinance. A few grinned guiltily when I asked if they were here just because the Ramskeller was open late.
In Old Town, it was another busy Friday night. Managers at Washington’s Bar and Stonehouse Grille didn’t notice any decrease in patronage Friday night. Neither did the bartender at the Town Pump.
I went downtown to the Town Pump to chat with my fellow students as to why they decided not to boycott Old Town.
Most people had no idea what I was talking about.
The boycott was not well publicized. The Collegian ran a story Friday about the planned boycott. ASCSU had a flyer attached to the front of the paper chiding students: “YOU ARE DOING NOTHING.” And posters were hung around Lory Student Center. Many people said they might have boycotted if they had heard about it sooner.
Some people I talked with had gone to the Ramskeller, written letters and then came downtown for the drink specials and a livelier scene. They didn’t think the bartenders and staff in Old Town deserved to be boycotted for something they have absolutely no control over.
A few students I talked to could care less about changing the ordinance.
To ASCSU’s credit, they mounted an impressive campaign on our behalf. They collected 3,000 letters and endorsements in just a few weeks. I commend their efforts.
But let’s be honest with ourselves. 3-Unrelated is not an issue students are taking to the streets over. Hell, we won’t even sacrifice one night of drinking in Old Town.
Do we just not care?
After two years of battling U+2, we know better than to think a boycott of Old Town will influence City Council’s decision. So what if we’re worth $168 million to the local economy? Students won’t disappear if the law is not changed, and the City Council knows that.
The City Council has repeatedly entertained our complaints and even placated us with “workshops,” only to turn around and tighten the law the very next week.
Here’s the secret: The City Council members want to get re-elected. The people who vote in City Council elections are long-time residents and families. What they want is stricter enforcement of U+2, or even a gated “CSU City” erected east of Timberline Road to keep us out of the community.
Tuesday’s decision by the City Council to keep U+2 basically unchanged should be no surprise. We are not without options, however. ASCSU Senator David Ambrose said, “If students want to see 3-Unrelated changed, the way to do that is by voting in City Council elections. Until we can get City Council members who think the same way students do, nothing is going to change.”
While we’re at it, we should also vote for a mayor more sympathetic to student concerns.
Our rallies, boycotts, letters and endorsements mean nothing if students do not care enough to vote in the regular elections. So let’s care. Unfortunately, we’ll have to put up with U+2 at least until the next election in 2011.
Erik Anderson is a senior natural resources major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.