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A Student’s Opinion on the Overlook Manor Sale

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Manhattan chapter.

On Sept. 6, 2023, I attended a Community Meeting regarding the sale of the Manhattan College building formerly known as Overlook Manor to Stagg Group. The meeting was held by the Board of Directors of Waldo Gardens and took place over Zoom. Off the bat, the meeting suffered major technological issues. The first 10 minutes of the meeting were spent waiting for guests to arrive, and it took at least another five minutes for the moderators non-speakers after attendees accidentally spoke over each other. The general consensus was anger toward Manhattan College about the secretive nature of the sale. Most attendees were residents of Waldo Gardens. They latched onto transparency as their primary argument against the sale to Stagg Group. Jeffrey Dinowitz and his son, Eric Dinowitz, who serve as State Assemblyman and City Council Member, respectively, were in agreement.

The argument about transparency struck me as a thinly veiled excuse to protest affordable housing, with many showing their true colors in questioning the safety and integrity of the neighborhood. Overreporting of these one-sided opinions unfortunately gave legitimacy to the argument against the sale. In my opinion, the nature of the conversation at the first community meeting also contributed to the herd mentality that has come to shape recent events. At the next community meeting, a Stagg Group official announced that the group was in talks about using the building as a migrant shelter. This is when public opinion flipped. After initially speaking against affordable housing at the Sept. 6 meeting, residents took issue with the building’s use as a migrant shelter upon the update. Opinion pieces in the Riverdale Press include blatantly racist and classist sentiments, with titles including, “Still no room for migrants here in Riverdale,” “How’s the ‘right to shelter’ going?” and, “Migrants bringing disease?” Now, no one is bothering to hide their bigotry.

A community rally took place on Sept. 24, 2023, outside Overlook Manor. The rally was led by Curtis Sliwa. In the late 1970s, Sliwa founded the Guardian Angels, a volunteer organization that enlists “Safety Patrols” to ride the subway wearing red berets in an effort to prevent crime. In 2021, Sliwa ran as the Republican candidate for New York City mayor, losing to the Democratic Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams. Sliwa won 27.9% of the vote. Since his loss, Sliwa has become extremely vocal about his radical ideals, specifically regarding Eric Adams and the city’s safety measures. His radical but baseless claims echo the hate speech used in opinion pieces found both at the protest and in the Riverdale Press. Protestors exposed their hypocrisy in their “America first” arguments. Once firmly against affordable housing, one protestor complained to CBS News that, “They should have Americans first coming in to live here before the migrants. Take care of our own first.”

Across the street from Sliwa’s community rally was a counter-protest in favor of the migrant shelter. This side of the protest raised issue with the xenophobic rhetoric that ran rampant. One Bronx resident said it best in a statement to CBS News, “No matter what they claim, they’re protesting migrants. They’re protesting people. And they’re protesting people who have every right to be in this city.” I fully agree. I see no legitimate basis for the anger over the sale. For all those getting involved, I urge you to look past the nature of the sale and form your opinions based on how the building will be used. There is much good that can come from the migrant shelter, and judgment on the sale’s outcome should not be clouded by complaints about “transparency.”

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Chloe Barth

Manhattan '24