By: David A. Smith
Captain: Well, he gets it.
– Cool Hand Luke
As I wrap up this long, long series on what has become a slow war of political attrition between rising Quinnipiac University and the socioeconomically stable Town of Hamden where it was born, we return to where the story started – with lingering irritation in Hamden arising from a rash of absentee-landlord student homes located off campus and not policed by Quinnipiac (because it believed it lacked jurisdiction) nor by Hamden. In fact, Hamden’s practical inability to monitor the absentee landlords, its judicial estoppel (likely) from charging them a special permit to operate ‘student’ housing, and its evident political inability to change town zoning, have left the Town with one default position – blame the problem on Quinnipiac:
While the town has accused the school of not providing enough beds, each semester there are hundreds that go empty, Lahey said. The town is currently fining the school $150 a day for being in violation of the 2007 York Hill zoning approval that the town maintains required the school have one bed for every student enrolled.
Now that’s just dumb, because $150 a day, $54,000 a year, is peanuts compared to what Hamden stands to gain or lose from better or worse decisions by Quinnipiac:
Nor is it material for Quinnipiac compared against the strategic cost of new dorms, especially as Quinnipiac can simply dedicate that much money to beating Hamden in court:
The university is challenging that in court, saying it meets the spirit of the condition by providing a bed for every student who wants one.
“For us, it makes no sense,” he said. “We told the town we would build as many beds as needed to meet the demand. Last year, we had 270 empty beds in the fall and 400 in the spring.”
Hamden’s already shown its willingness to fight on small things (the fence) without proper grounds (literally: the fence wasn’t in Hamden), and yet it has chosen to make these fights without regard to the larger context, including the other player right next door:
Principal sources used in this post
Yale News (January 29, 2013; Yale blue font)
Inside Higher Education (May 14, 2014.; olive font)
New Haven Register (November 19, 2014; turquoise font)
New Haven Register (January 4, 2015; cyan font)
Hamden Patch (March 5, 2015; pink font)
New Haven Register (June 8, 2015; brown font)
New Haven Register, August 16, 2015, midnight font)
New Haven Register (September 15, 2015, olive green font)
New Haven Register (October 15, 2015: caramel font)
Quinnipiac Chronicle (October 21, 2015; buff blue font)
9B. North Haven is playing a multi-round game with a Cooperate baseline
If President Lahey is to be believed, the university’s shift to North Haven is due to one consideration above all: its baseline strategy of Cooperate:
But remember, I’m on top here
North Haven officials are enthusiastic about the school’s growth in that town, including plans for private development along Washington Avenue of apartments that would be leased to students, he said. That town highlights the university in its economic development literature, Lahey said, while there’s no mention of Quinnipiac in Hamden’s marketing materials.
The Cooperate strategy is personified in North Haven’s version of John DeStefano:
Mr. Freda has a corporate background, making him likely more knowledgeable about and receptive to economic-development arguments, and also much more experience in Prisoner’s-Dilemma situations (e.g. longstanding supplies or sales outlets):
“We have spent more time in meetings with Freda in the past six months than we have with Hamden officials in the past 20 years,” he said.
Translation: If you keep ignoring and abusing me, I may just leave.
I’m leaving because you treat me like a child
9C. In the long run, Cooperate beats Defect as a multi-round strategy
Whatever the merits of any individual decision made by Hamden or Quinnipiac, what died throughout the many rounds of game-playing was any goodwill or trust between the two sides, and that led to Quinnipiac walking away, not from Hamden, but from the Hamden-development game:
Feels good, doesn’t it?
“It was clear that we couldn’t implement our plans in Hamden,” Lahey said, including the new medical school, and engineering program and new science labs.
Having decided to de-risk itself from Hamden, and to grow aggressively in North Haven, President Lahey and the Quinnipiac administration have wisely eschewed triumphalism. Far better just to make the change without fanfare:
Even though university President John Lahey was quoted in the New Haven Register saying some administrative offices might be relocated to North Haven, [vp of Facilities Lynn] Bushnell said this does not mean anything about which campus is referred to as the “main” campus.
“We view all three campuses as ‘equals’ and there is no so-called ‘main’ campus,” Bushnell said. “Each has a different flavor and purpose, but one is not more important than another.”
They’re all equal, but one’s growing and two aren’t
Forced to comment, Mayor Leng expressed not regret but grievance:
“The expansion into North Haven is a good opportunity for the university and I hope that the off-campus housing issues are thought out well in North Haven certainly so they don’t end up struggling with some of the same issues we have here in Hamden five to ten years down the road,” Leng said.
At least he staying on message:
“And while they are good for the region,” said Leng, “and are expanding into North Haven, the very real issue of student housing is almost exclusively a Hamden burden.”
Actually, no; the student housing will also be needed in North Haven, and Quinnipiac and North Haven have already planned development and revitalization along Washington Avenue.
AHI posts on town-gown housing and taxation tensions
10. Today universities have to grow or die
Time to put on some big-university pants
As I took pains to establish early in this post, Quinnipiac is a university on the move, experiencing a growth spurt worthy of an adolescent and reminiscent of the administrative steroids that John Silber pumped into Boston University during his turbulent decades. For Quinnipiac, not to grow is to stagnate, then wither, then die, and Quinnipiac will do whatever it takes to keep growing. Even Quinnipiac’s motto heralds that view:
Quinnipiac’s motto, Qui Transtulit Sustinet, means “He who transplants, sustains.”
“He who transplants, sustains” – especially when growth is so easy just a few miles to the east:
“I have seen clearly, whether with Fairfield University, Yale University and now with the communication between us and Quinnipiac University, that is the key to smart growth is that it is non-intrusive to the residents,” Freda said.
“Quinnipiac University has been working with me to ensure that if there are any disturbances at the residential level, that they will act immediately and decisively to help us in the town to ensure that this relationship continues to be beneficial to North Haven.”
In the Prisoner’s-Dilemma game simulations I referenced before, another remarkable benefit of TIT-FOR-TAT emerged: It could be fully published without downside. Even knowing that the second player was using TIT-FOR-TAT, one couldn’t ‘beat’ it – ‘winning’ one round (I Defect, T4T Cooperates) has an immediate and enduring ongoing cost – especially when Quinnipiac (Greenwich Post, August 4, 2015) offers its Cooperating partner these goodies:
Actually, better goodies than these, please
The university enrolls 6,500 full-time undergraduate and 2,500 graduate students in 58 undergraduate and more than 20 graduate programs of study in its School of Business and Engineering, School of Communications, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, School of Law, Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, School of Nursing and College of Arts and Sciences.
Quinnipiac consistently ranks among the top regional universities in the North in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s “Best Colleges” issue. The 2015 issue of U.S. News & World Report’s America’s “Best Colleges” named Quinnipiac as the top up-and-coming school with master’s programs in the Northern Region.
Quinnipiac also is recognized in Princeton Review’s “The Best 379 Colleges.” The Chronicle of Higher Education has named Quinnipiac among the “Great Colleges to Work For.”
In the computer-versus-computer simulations, it turned out to be better, in every counter-strategy, to Cooperate with TIT-FOR-TAT, as North Haven is doing:
The main concern during this expansion is to minimize the amount of residential disruption, Freda said.
“Through the outstanding communication that we have with Quinnipiac University, we are trying to create what we call a town-and-gown model such that the university could grow, the town benefits from economic developments and jobs and positions of faculty and administrators, but also protects the residential areas … from any neighborhood disruptions,” Freda said.
Straight out of the Yale-New Haven, Levin-DeStefano playbook.
You go here, I go there, he goes somewhere else
First Selectman Freda speaks like a man who gets it.
“The town has reacted positively [to the news of the expansion],” Freda said. “But also, throughout the positive reactions, there are questions I’m being asked and there are some concerns about what could happen in the future.”
First selectman Freda’s Cooperation is immediately and visibly rewarded:
The university added two shuttles that go into North Haven from Quinnipiac.
Freda said the shuttle routes in North Haven have not changed anything about the town.
“I have not seen a dynamic change [because of the shuttles],” Freda said. “But the businesses on Universal Drive are very happy.”
Dad works in Hamden, she’ll spend a year in North Haven: Allie Otlowski
Allie Otlowski, a sophomore whose father works in Hamden, said she thinks the North Haven expansion will be good for her as a health science major.
“I’m going to be going into North Haven anyway my junior year so it’s good,” Otlowski said.
Otlowski said she thinks we should improve the relationship with Hamden before expanding into North Haven.
Ah, youth; ever optimistic.
11. Hamden and Quinnipiac: can this relationship be saved?
Uh – no.
“If that’s how we communicate, then we’re not going to communicate,” Lahey said.
Instead of talking with Hamden’s Mayor, President Lahey chose to communicate in the New Haven paper, bypassing town government and making his case directly to Hamden’s property owners and its voters:
The uiversity has no intention of leaving Hamden, Lahey said. “We have a lot invested and we don’t want to leave Hamden,” he said. But there won’t be any more growth there, at least for the foreseeable future, he said.
Lahey said the push into North Haven will continue.
You want freedom to expand? It’s down the road yonder
Captain: I don’t like it any more than you men.
– Cool Hand Luke