June 21, 2018

Editorial: Webster University IS Webster Groves

In the past few weeks The Journal has received some not-so-pleasant responses on our article “Webster Groves residents fight university expansion.” Well, we have one question for Webster Groves residents: How long does the school have to exist to gain  respect and be a part of the community?
Up until about a month ago, The Journal thought we had been a part of the community. After all, if a person can live in a state for less than a month and be considered a resident, Webster University should certainly be a member of the community after 96 years of financial and cultural contributions. That apparently isn’t enough for our fellow residents.
A Webster Groves resident posted to our site “The residents in Webster Groves couldn’t care less about the revenue the students supposedly ‘bring in.’ ” Well, dear reader, if you couldn’t care less then The Journal is tempted to ask students to stop shopping and eating at Webster Groves establishments altogether and see if the owners of these businesses would like to be without student money.
We are not a bunch of rowdy kids. Overall, Webster University does not contribute to a higher crime rate in Webster Groves and there are no drunk and disorderly students throwing up on residents, front lawns.
The main complaint from residents seems to be two separate considerations ­— the school makes Webster Groves ugly and we destroy the historic value of the community by our mere existence.
At the upcoming Delegates’ Agenda, one of the main concerns of students is to improve relations with Webster Groves residents. The Journal agrees this is something that definitely needs to improve in the Webster community, but how far should we push ourselves into unfriendly territory?
Webster residents have continuously reminded us that we are not welcome. To quote Maggie Sowash from the Feb. 1 article, “You guys are not hosting us. You are a guest.” Sowash, among other citizens, have laid claim to their territory. This has all turned into a good old fashioned “my horse is bigger than your horse” battle. What the Webster Groves community continuously fails to realized is that we don’t want to battle the community, but we will. Sowash said we should be happy with our facilities and “use what you have.” But what we have is severely outdated equipment and space and a program in need of both.
If The Journal had been around 97 years ago, before the Sisters of Loretto created Webster College, and knew then what we know now, we would have made one huge suggestion — run. Run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Since we weren’t around then and couldn’t make such a suggestion to the sisters, we make our own suggestion to the residents. Put up or shut up. Webster University is here to stay. We will grow and we will change, but one thing is for certain — we won’t be leaving.

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