For a time recently, it seems like we here in Pullman were escaping the immediacy of many of the world’s problems. As of this past weekend, that complacency has been shattered.

I live only a block or so away from the worst of it, the shooting here in Pullman that killed one fellow and sent another to a Spokane hospital. I slept through it thanks to the oxygen machine running at night by my bed delivering white noise that screens out a lot of the noise from outside. I learned of it the next morning when a friend called to see if I was OK.

While I was in no immediate danger, I find the thought of someone coming into my neighborhood with a loaded gun and ready to use it very disturbing. I’ve lived here a long time and generally feel very safe. I’m old enough to remember the Palm Sunday shootings in 1949 and what I was doing. That took place at the west end of Howard Street — too close for comfort for several of my friends who lived very close to where it happened. The one local person who was shot, instead of holing up in a safe place, was out rubbernecking the scene. I’m told that Pullman has had at least one other incident during the years I lived elsewhere. I still consider Pullman a relatively safe place to live, but we still have to be vigilant.

I think it imperative that the university tell students who live off campus that there are still social rules and more that should be observed as if they were living in their neighborhoods back home. Pullman’s permanent residents deserve the same courtesies and respect of their rights as the folks in their hometowns. Living off campus isn’t a license to run wild.

Our relative safety is being threatened in another way. We are now facing the possibility of having our hospital full of COVID-19 cases taken in from Idaho so we might not be able to get treatment for such problems like stroke, heart attack or injuries for which I am vulnerable. For someone my age, that is thought provoking — not pleasant thoughts.

What really gets my nose in a knot is that most of those recent COVID-19 cases could have been avoided if only those people obeyed the rules and got vaccinated. I have no sympathy for their present problems, only for those who love them.

Pullman’s permanent residents work hard to make Pullman a pleasant place to live and visit. Many of us who grew up here have had a mixed relationship with the university. For some, it is or has been a source of income, a place to enjoy the arts, sports events, use the libraries and even take classes. We love it. And many of us enjoy the students when they behave like civilized persons.

I’m sure Moscow has shared many of these experiences and has a similar relationship with the University of Idaho. When I was young, we regularly attended Sunday “vespers” in Bryan Hall featuring faculty and student recitals. We didn’t neglect sports events either. Once a year, there was an open house where the various science and ag classes showed off their activities. We petted the animals, were given small vials of perfume put together by the chemistry students, whatever that department had to offer on that occasion.

If we are going to give our children a similar safe place to grow up, we have to pay attention to what is taking place and act to change things that are bad or potentially dangerous. Unlike the early years for me, more students are married with families so many of them have an even greater stake in the safety of this town.

My quarrel isn’t with them as most of them are really actively involved with the community.

I hope the college takes a stronger stand with the off-campus students, making it clear that they too have a big stake in the safety and ambiance of our neighborhoods, which implies also, an obligation to help keep them that way.

Harding lives in Pullman and is a longtime League of WomenVoters member. She also has served on the Gladish Communityand Cultural Center board. Reach her at lj1105harding@gmail.com.

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