Last Saturday, I woke up to a not-so-pleasant surprise.
As I ran out the door to my 8 a.m. Boot Camp class, I tripped over a pile of garbage, and nearly went sneaker over baseball cap onto the concrete.
Don't get me wrong; as an East Sider, I'm used to the weekend game of dodging empty beer bottles, half-eaten Jimmy John's sandwiches and red plastic cups adorned with markered names like "Amber" (with a smiley face.)
But there were two things that made this morning different.
First, in addition to the usual scattering of trash, there was a bigger, more angering surprise: Not only were all six of our garbage cans knocked over, but so were most of the other cans in a 4-block radius.
Second, for the first time since moving into my condo, I questioned whether I really wanted to be an East Sider anymore.
Worse yet, the people who were making me contemplate leaving my home and favorite part of the city are people who don't own homes or condos on the East Side, have no real vested interest in the community and pass in and out of our lives in four years: UW-Milwaukee students.
Last Monday, an open meeting was held at UWM's student onion with UW Regents to discuss possible changes to the UW System's off-campus code of conduct.
The time, 4-6 p.m., was, as most UWM-related meetings are, set for the leisure of the students, not the residents whose normal work day doesn't end until 5 p.m.
Since I was held up at work, my husband attended the meeting. By the time he arrived it was nearly 6 p.m., but the generous community turnout proved how important this issue is to East Side residents.
In a statement e-mailed by Ald. Michael D'Amato asking residents to attend the meeting, he said: "Every Autumn and Spring my office, the Milwaukee Police, and other city staff spend hundreds of hours and thousands of your tax dollars in an attempt to control unruly student behavior. We cannot continue to fight this losing battle without strong assistance from UWM. With a change in UWM's disciplinary procedure we will have another tool, a major tool, that will assist us in restoring the high quality of life we all expect for the amount of money we pay in taxes."
The obvious question?
Why doesn't UWM support an off-campus code of conduct?
Is the university so blind to the offenses committed by its students that it won't require them to take responsibility for their actions?
And, if students don't plan on committing illegal and unruly acts, why should they be opposed to it?
Who, exactly, would the Regents be protecting by not enforcing an off-campus code of conduct? Students who aren't mature enough to handle their freedom? And, if the university continues to allow this behavior, when will they realize it's wrong?
I understand the baggage that comes with being an East Sider.
I understand there will be screaming drunks stumbling past my home at 2 a.m. every weekend.
I understand that my husband will have to go on trash pickup duty every Sunday morning so our sidewalks don't look like a landfill.
I understand I won't find a parking spot after 10 p.m. within a two-block stretch from my condo.
I don't like these things, but I understand them -- and can deal with them -- as a trade off for living in a vibrant area with shops, eateries, parks and more.
The bottom line is, I understand what it's like to be an East Sider. I also understand what's it's like to be a college student and experience true freedom for the first time.
I was a UW-Oshkosh college student seven short years ago, and spent much of my time drinking too much and paying for it the next day.
I wore French Quarter Mardi Gras beads instead of honor ropes to my college graduation, and could still tell you the specials at Molly's every day of the week from 1996-2000.
But, I also understood that with freedom comes responsibility.
It's not difficult to have a good time and still be considerate of your neighborhood.
All East Side residents are asking for is a little respect. I don't think that's too much to ask. Do you, UWM?
Fashionista, stylist, writer and TV personality, Jordan Dechambre, owner of Jordan Dechambre Style, lives for fashion and writing. Her unique resume encompasses everything from a former life as a magazine fashion editor to the current host of Bon-Ton Department Stores’ nationwide New & Now fashion shows.
Jordan is a brand ambassador for many of the nation’s leading retailers and the official Fashion Expert for the “Real Milwaukee” morning show. She is also a sought-after fashion show producer and stylist, and recently co-chaired a runway reunion of all the designers from season 15 of “Project Runway.”
In addition to her fashion career, Jordan is a public relations and social media consultant and an avid writer. She has written for Ladies’ Home Journal, Milwaukee Magazine, M: Milwaukee’s Lifestyle Magazine, Wisconsin Bride, among others, and won several Milwaukee Press Club awards.
Learn more about Jordan at jordandechambrestyle.com or on Instagram and Facebook @