Thursday, September 25, 2003

Campus awakens

Fall: new life to UC students, local merchants

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] It is hard to find a view of the UC campus without construction crews hard at work.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
CORRYVILLE - Terry Camp works her way down the sidewalk of the Short Vine business district, a mishmash of bars, shops and restaurants next to the sprawling University of Cincinnati campus.

"Things were pretty neat and clean around here before the students got back," says the 51-year-old Corryville woman, who is paid by a Short Vine business owner to clean up the bottles, cans and cigarette packs left behind by the nightclub crowds.

"It's not so bad right now," Camp says, poking her litter-pick with precision into cigarette butts lying in the gutter. "Just wait until the weekend. What a mess. But that's the price you pay. The students are what makes the neighborhood."

The quiet days of summer are over for neighborhoods like Clifton, Corryville and University Heights. The throng of nearly 34,000 students landed Wednesday, clogging the streets, crowding the sidewalks and causing the happy ker-ching of cash registers in the business strips of Short Vine, Calhoun Street and Ludlow Avenue.

The new school year means different things to the rainbow of humanity that crowds this city-within-a-city each fall.

For the 18-year-old freshman showing up for his first day of college classes, it is the too-late realization that you need a parking pass to get one of the precious spots in the university lots.

For the hospital worker trying to get up Martin Luther King Drive early in the morning to her job, it means sitting in traffic backed up all the way from Clifton Avenue to Jefferson Street.

For the new graduate students who have just arrived in Cincinnati from overseas, it is a bewildering maze of buildings separated mostly by construction barriers, where getting from Point A to Point B is nearly as exhausting as swimming the English Channel.

Fallou Mbow, a Senegal native, sells authentic African sculptures at the corner of Short Vine and East Corry.

"I've been on this corner since 1996 and that is where most of my business comes from," says Mbow, loading the sculptures done by his grandfather in Senegal out of the back of his van. "Lots of students from Africa. Professors. Doctors. That's who buys from me."

As he speaks, the parking spaces on Short Vine and the surrounding streets are quickly filling up with cars. Off-duty sheriff's deputies man the entrances to the university, trying to keep those without parking passes from grabbing on-campus spots.

Veteran students like seniors Ashley Newman of Youngstown and Linda Gallagher of Sandusky learned long ago that driving to school didn't make a lot of sense. The two communications students live in an apartment in Clifton Heights and walk to school.

"There's no way I'd drive into this mess,'' says Newman, walking down Calhoun Street carrying a baguette from a local bakery under her arm. "Maybe if it was a really big snowstorm and I couldn't walk through it. Otherwise, forget it."

For freshman Richie West, walking to school from his home in Clermont County's Union Township is not an option.

West, who wants to become a high school teacher, shows up for the first day of his college career Wednesday and finds an unwelcome surprise - he can't get on-campus parking without an official pass.

"I don't remember anybody telling me that in orientation," he says, walking behind McMicken Hall between classes.

For two other students, Philip Jung and Chie Suzuki, everything - the campus, the neighborhoods around it, and Cincinnati itself - is brand new and rather bewildering.

Both are graduate students - Jung, a chemical engineering student from South Korea; Suzuki, a social work student from Japan. Suzuki lives on campus; Jung has an apartment in Clifton.

"It's hard, just learning where everything is, on and off campus," says Jung, as he and Suzuki, who have just met on Calhoun Street, exchange phone numbers. "But I will figure it out. I like it here already."


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