SUNY Oswego students concerned about possible Bridge Street Run changes

May 14, 2014

Students on the SUNY Oswego campus have been taking to social media to voice their concerns about proposals to change the tradition of Bridge Street Run, an unsanctioned bar crawl that draws hundreds of students and others to the city to celebrate the last day of classes.

On Monday, the city's Common Council voted unanimously to ban Bridge Street Run in its current form. Councilors say quality of life issues for downtown residents and overtime costs associated with the city's police, fire and Department of Public Works are part of the reason for their decision to enact a ban of Bridge Street Run until changes can be made.

SUNY Oswego students have mixed feelings about the ban, even though Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen says the move was mainly meant to send a message to the community that change needs to happen to protect the safety of residents.

John Mongiello is a senior at SUNY Oswego and says like many other end-of-the-year events held at colleges, the Bridge Street Run has its faults.

"Honestly, in a perfect world, the students participating would be able to behave themselves enough so that it wouldn't be a problem," Mongiello said. "But, when alcohol is involved, no matter who you are, it's going to impair your judgment. And when a lot of people get intoxicated and run around town, things happen."

On social media sites like Twitter, hashtags like #saveBSR have popped up, with students and alumni calling the city's resolution unenforceable.

Another alumnus of the college wrote a letter to the Common Council urging the group to reconsider. His letter can be found here.

Mongiello says although he doesn't like the idea of the event being banned, he can see the situation from the city's point of view, too.

"They probably do feel the tradition aspect of it, which is why they don't want it to go away, because they see how much it helps the bars and restaurant business in Oswego, and to keep the tradition that's been alive for so long," Mongiello said. "But at the same time, there have been complaints by residents, and it's dangerous and people don't want to go anywhere near downtown Oswego, especially if they have to commute to and from work on that Friday. It's terrible."

He says the Bridge Street Run should not be shut down for everyone because of the actions of a few people, and agrees that students should be involved in future discussions to help make the event safer for everyone.

Mongiello also says other options should be considered to still allow the Bridge Street Run to take place, including moving the event to a city park or possibly closing down portions of Bridge Street for several hours, like a block party.

Gillen says he has spoken with SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley multiple times since the weekend about the Bridge Street Run's future.

"If any good comes out of this, it's the chance that the campus, the college and the city are in open communication right now," Gillen said. "We have a mutual problem, and we are part of this community and we will solve this problem together."

In a written statement released Tuesday afternoon, Stanley agreed with Gillen, saying, "with the support of the downtown community, we can find a new approach to end of semester celebrations." She added that the university will "redouble [its] efforts to discourage intoxication and abuse of alcohol and other drugs."