The following eight objectives are top priorities in creating a new
beginning for the residents of Oakland and the greater community. Each
of the objectives mentioned below has as its basis respect for human
- End University
of Pittsburgh expansion in Oakland.
In order to increase the quality of life and rebuild Oakland’s
residential community, student enrollment increases must end.
The Mark A Nordenberg Hall, which annually brings into our community
an additional 559 first-year students, must be converted for
use by upperclassmen. This will allow students who currently
live in the residential neighborhood to move onto campus.
must conduct and release a comprehensive Impact Statement to
assess the University’s effect on the community of Oakland from
1960 to the present, in order to fully understand the devastating
decline of Oakland’s residential area. This assessment could
be done under the leadership of a University faculty member with
expertise in this area.
Future expansion plans by the University
in Oakland must be preceded by an Impact Statement, indicating
how the expansion would affect Oakland residents.
- Increase University funding
for the community.
The actions taken by our grassroots movement since March 2007
for the improvement of Oakland’s community are well documented.
Our recent initiative for the beautification of Joncaire Street
has established a strong working relationship with Oakland Planning
and Development Corporation, inspired decisive action by the
city’s Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa, and produced encouraging
remarks from Mayor Bill Peduto.
A bank account with a separate Tax ID number must be established
by the University for funds that will be used exclusively for
the betterment of Oakland’s residential community. To ensure
accountability that the monies will be spent prudently and effectively,
two designated signatures would be required for the release of
any monies: that of the Chancellor or another University representative,
and that of a representative from our grassroots organization.
The initial annual financial commitment by the University for
the community fund would be $50 per student based on a population
of 30,000 full-time undergraduate, graduate, and part-time students.
After the University makes this commitment, the Universities
of Carnegie Mellon, Chatham, Carlow, and Duquesne will be asked
to contribute to the fund based on their own enrollment.
Money from the fund would be used for initiatives such as purchasing
Oakland homes owned by absentee landlords, especially the landlords
who have been troublesome for the community. The priority for
the sales of these homes would be given to Pitt’s faculty, administrators,
staff, and other potential longtime residents.
- Establish the SOUL Program, supported and funded
by the University.
Since our first letter to former Chancellor Mark Nordenberg
dated May 12, 1997, and in continuous actions since March 2007,
our grassroots movement has advocated for daily maintenance and
daily environmental enforcement for the litter and trash problems
in Oakland. Monies from the fund would implement the SOUL Program
for ending these problems. The funds would also provide the city
of Pittsburgh monies for an environmental enforcement officer
who would monitor the residential neighborhood for littering
and inappropriate trash disposal. These two actions would supplement
what OPDC and the University are now doing to curtail these problems.
- End student binge drinking problems.
Attending the University of Pittsburgh is a privilege that
students should respect. The University must reassess its “zero
tolerance” policy with stricter enforcement and disciplinary
actions for students who break city drinking laws. Regrettably,
many law-abiding students and longtime residents have chosen
to leave Oakland because of the persistent binge drinking problem.
Over the years the descendants of pre-University settlers and
other longtime residents who stayed have suffered the most from
this egregious problem.
OPDC recently received a $20,000 grant for each of the next three
years from the Liquor Control Board to combat the binge drinking
problem, a sum that is appreciated but inadequate. Additional monies
from the above aforementioned fund would allow the hiring of additional
police officers and staff to patrol the neighborhood during times
when the problem is most prominent.
In order to create a more loving and peaceful environment, the
University can assist Oakland residents by helping to persuade
the city that a police station should be restored in the Oakland
transparency of University business and policies.
The Chancellor must set forth policy that allow greater freedom
for University and student newspapers to express opinions and
print information without interference from the administration.
The University should rescind its support for an exemption to
Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law to allow the local media and
public greater access to University records.
Members of the University’s Board of Trustees make decisions that
have tremendous impact upon the lives of Oakland residents, but
residents have no written access to a board member except through
the secretary. Board of Trustee members must be given a University
email address for public use.
- Replace the University’s
culture of fear with a culture of mutual respect and betterment.
University faculty care about the residents of Oakland, so
it is not apathy that has prevented Pitt’s faculty from publicly
supporting any of the objectives mentioned herein. The Chancellor
must set forth policy that assures faculty members no retribution
for expressing opinions different from those of the administration.
- Move the Homecoming week fireworks display to a location outside
The decades-old decision to have a Homecoming Week fireworks
display in close proximity to the homes of longtime residents
never should have been made, and must be reversed. No other community
in the city of Pittsburgh has to endure such a massive fireworks
display that jeopardizes the health and safety of nearby residents.
Eighty percent of longtime residents on a street near the display
asked the former Chancellor to move the display to a venue outside
of Oakland, but their request was denied. The display could easily
be moved to Heinz Field and most likely would have the additional
benefit of increasing attendance for the University’s Homecoming
- Establish human dignity as the highest priority of the
University of Pittsburgh.
The Chancellor must set forth policy in which all decision
will be made with human dignity as the highest priority for students,
employees, and Oakland residents.
The solutions presented above are positive and practical, and
are solutions that will lead to a mutually beneficial and harmonious
relationship between the University and Oakland’s residential
community. Any suggestions to benefit the community from the
Chancellor or administrators that go beyond what is mentioned
here will be gratefully appreciated.
October 28, 2014