PRAVDA - Address from the President

October 28, 1996.

Are Eee Ess Pea Eee Sea Tea / find out what it means to me / R.E.S.P.E.C.T. / take care of you and me. Sock-it-to-me-Sock-it-to-me-Sock-it-to-me-Sock-it-to-me-Sock-it-to-me.

So those may be the lyrics, or they might not - no one can confirm them for me and it’s really not that important. But what is important is today’s topic: respect.

I’ve heard students complain about the treatment from some members of the London community. I myself have been treated poorly on occasion, as if I was a "second class citizen". Sure, they take our money and they hang up "Welcome Back UWO Students" signs (and keep them up until February) but we’ve often received substandard service and "negative vibes". How dare they treat us like that. University students are pillars of the community, the future leaders of Canada and responsible citizens - we deserve more respect.

But this isn’t the respect I’m talking about. Because respect is a two-way street.

I want to talk about the respect we give the members of the community - and their property. I realize some of us are better than others, but don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about - we all know what can go on.

The last thing I want to do is present myself as a goody-two-shoes (where the hell does that expression come from?). On more than one occasion I have found myself talking to a fine member of the police department about the social engagement I happened to be attending. I’ve been there, done that, wrote the book and got the T-shirt. But I’d like to think I have always been careful and courteous towards the neighbours.

Some students think everyone falls into two categories: students and cantankerous old geezers whose purpose in life is to ruin all parties and good times. But your neighbours are not all geezers (although everybody has at least one). Your neighbours are single mothers struggling to raise three small children. Your neighbours are hard working people who have to work at 7 a.m. Your neighbours are upstanding members of the community who deserve your respect and consideration.

Get to know your neighbours. Introduce yourself. Tell them if you are going to have a shindig. Maybe next time you’ll think twice about cranking the music up to 10 and they might let you know what annoys them before they call the police. I believe every student has the right to celebrate, but your neighbours have the right to a peaceful living environment.

One thing that can really irk your neighbours is garbage. Their property values are lowered by messy garbage and houses in disarray (which may or may not be the fault of an absentee landlord). I know figuring out the garbage schedule is more complicated than the SAT’s, but grab a schedule (they’re available at the USC office) and try to follow it.

Noise violations and messy garbage are annoyances, but property damage is completely different. Things have happened that are downright embarrassing: urinating on objects that shouldn’t be urinated on, egging houses, writing graffiti, stealing lawn furniture, and the general "trashing" of cars and property. Why are some people’s good taste, practical judgement and decency thrown away along with their first bottle cap? Grow up.

I hope that I don’t sound too "preachy", but we should all be reminded about being responsible citizens and members of the community. Everybody wants to be treated with respect, so try dishing some out.

On a final note, I have received some derogatory comments regarding the picture that used to accompany this column. I hope those people find this one less offensive.

Keep smiling and good luck on your midterms.

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