Potsdam, NY Political Capital

The Political Capital can be described as the ability of a group of individuals to guide the distribution of resources among a community (Green & Haines, 2015). In Potsdam, a large example of this is the increase in restrictions and regulations faced by Greek organizations of Clarkson University. Over recent years, there have been stricter guidelines put into place regarding code enforcement and occupancy regulations which have put greater pressure onto these organizations. Because these properties can be classified as both residential and commercial, code enforcement officers may choose which category to place the property to achieve an agenda. This transition to stricter enforcement is supported by the University, who aims to transition to a fully on-campus Greek housing community so greater control may be had over events that occur at these houses. Because Clarkson is such a large financial provider to the small town, it has a large political influence on the community. One specific way in which these heightened regulations are displayed is through the heightened scrutiny over fire code and the village’s strict village ordinances regarding the outside appearance of properties. These regulations are often very costly to maintain and result in extensive expenses by the organizations.

While Greek organizations are required to make extra expenditures, this money cycles directly back into the town. Approximately 30% of residents within the village of Potsdam live in poverty with a median annual income of just over $30,000 (US Dept. of Commerce, 2014). Potsdam may benefit from consensus organizing to improve these figures and make its residents more successful. Locals are struggling financially and consensus organizing would help develop a positive, economically developed solution to help decrease the poverty level in Potsdam. Perhaps with these changes, Greek life may not be the target of stricter enforcement.


Green, G. P., & Haines, A. (2015). Asset Building and Community Development. Washington, DC: SAGE Publications.


U.S. Department of Commerce (2014). Community Facts. Retrieved from http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml