Based on our data, only 16% of my blog readers live in the Dubuque community. That means my Editorial below, published in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald on Sunday, December 17th, 2017, will probably mean nothing to you.
But before you exit the page and go on with your day, I’d like to suggest that you read it with a specific thought in mind.
While many challenges you face seem daunting or even impossible to overcome, when viewed in the context of the ‘big picture’, they are simply learning experiences masquerading as obstacles.
In this instance, our neighbor’s complaint about noise at a football game turned into an opportunity for us to think through the University’s role in being a neighbor, as well as a contributor to the larger community.
Moments like these afford organizations like ours the opportunity to conduct periodic inventories. Are we being a good neighbor? Are we contributing to our community’s overall health? Are there things that we can do better, or are we about where we need to be?
In other words, sometimes a difficult critique, when understood more broadly, can be an opportunity for organizational improvement.
My guess is that at least a few Telegraph Herald readers are following the discussion about the City of Dubuque’s noise ordinance as it relates to events on campuses of our colleges and high schools.
I was surprised, on the occasion of our last home football game, to learn that Dubuque police had been sent to quiet our public-address operation.
It seems that one neighbor complained that Saturday afternoon, and our announcer and public address team were instructed to turn down the volume or risk having the system turned off completely or, worse, being arrested.
Thankfully, a call to a city employee helped cooler heads prevail and our admirable Police Department was released to do what they do so well for our community. Also, we won the game in overtime, which is always a good thing!
I certainly understand that, on occasion, campuses can be pretty rowdy places, in addition to places of spiritual, intellectual and character formation. We all work with 14- to 22-year-olds who are in the process of learning. Learning how to read, write and seriously engage a subject, of course, but also learning how to grow and mature into the men and women God created them to be.
To be sure, living near a college or high school campus isn’t always easy, as with occasional issues with parking or litter. But owning a home near a campus does have its privileges.
For example, neighbors regularly use our campus to take walks, ride bikes, walk dogs (and, no, the leftovers aren’t often picked up), hit golf balls, throw footballs, jog on the track, play baseball or softball, kick a soccer ball or walk on the indoor track. Those are a few examples of the outside access.
Inside, we regularly host community organizations (often at no cost), politicians and candidates, art shows, lectures, basketball games and wrestling tournaments, youth football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, cheerleading, choral and instrumental camps — all on top of the 32,404 people we’ve hosted at Heritage Center, 12,468 of which were part of our 2017 School Bus Performance Series.
Like our sister campuses, the University of Dubuque is a busy place — and thank God for that. In addition, along with Clarke University and Loras College, our collective 700-plus employees and 5,000-plus students contribute over $500 million annually in the form of rental housing, hotel stays, catering charges, payroll taxes, property taxes, building projects, medical and dental bills and automobile purchases. It is important that each of our schools does its part to help make Dubuque one of the most livable places in America.
So, hopefully, readers can forgive my mild disappointment about the noise issue.
After researching the subject, I’ve learned that UD hosts outside events approximately 42 out of 365 days in the year. Music is played at those events, at the absolutely most, for a total of about 31.5 hours out of the 8,760 hours in the year. This translates into music being played 0.359 percent of the time, which hardly strikes me as excessive.
Friends, neighbors do things for neighbors. We pick up their mail when they’re gone or walk their dogs when they are ill. To be a good neighbor, UD opens up its campus to its neighbors to bike, walk, play, meet, serve and learn. Occasionally — 0.359 percent of the time, to be precise — the noise from our loudspeaker might be a little excessive. We invite you to be patient with us even as, on occasion, we try to be patient with you.
And look on the bright side — at least we’re not playing disco!