Buffalo State has long maintained an active presence in the West Side despite
the negative perception surrounding the community. Bordering the stigmatic
neighborhood, the college has been associated with the downtrodden and violent
stereotypes connected with the area, fairly or unfairly, since its inception.
Buffalo State is deeply rooted within the area, working with residents through the
Community Academic Center, the West Side Bazaar, Year of the City and the new
Bengal Bucks program, which allows students to use the money in their meal plans
at local community businesses.
In an effort to work more closely to improve the West Side, Buffalo State's Center for
Health and Social Research recently received a $625,000 grant to work within the
neighborhood to fight drug use and gang violence.
The grant ensures that Buffalo State will remain tied to the West Side, for better or
Recent events have given students the impression the West Side is unsafe. At the
beginning of the semester, a group of Buffalo State students were assaulted and
robbed on the corner of Potomac Avenue and Grant Street, ending with one student
getting shot. That same weekend, a girl was robbed, and more recently, two people
with no association to the college were shot in a drive-by on the corner of Byrd and
Students' fears are not unfounded, but they only feed into the negative stereotypes
that plague the West Side.
That was the beginning of a new semester. Students were and are still getting used
to the area. We should be cautious and aware, but let's not allow our concerns to
become fear or paranoia.
The West Side is actually a diverse cultural environment that is home to dozens of
small upstart businesses, many of which rely upon the college and its students to
As long as the student body fears entering the area, those businesses will suffer. And
as long as the student body fears the area, that stigma will be associated with the
The enhanced education of students and programs that are working to eliminate the
drug trade and resulting gang violence from the surrounding area will go a long way
toward making the West Side a more desirable destination.
What's more, the work Buffalo State does in relation to this initiative will help
cement the college and its students as a progressive presence in the city.
There's no better way to instill pride than to get down to work and make a tangible
difference in a community that needs it. So students should look at Buffalo State's
involvement with the West Side neighborhood as one for great opportunity, instead
of fear and doubt.
If we put in enough hard work, there's a good chance the community will continue
to grow with us and foster a more caring relationship.