It seems like I have been a part of gown-town relations since I left for college in the late 70’s. I think my first real taste of the conflict was during the Winter Olympics of 1980. Towns people in the Adirondacks thought there would be many, many jobs for the locals. They were upset when colleges in the area scheduled breaks and students were suddenly looking for work, too. This was easily solved because there were plenty of jobs to go around between housekeeping, food service, security.
Then, there were the ongoing relations between town and gown where I live. Binghamton is known for problems between the locals and the students in some parts of town. The university tries to make this work. The city council tries to make it work in their way. Eventually, the truth has to be stated. The city depends on the economic impact of these students so get over it.
Now comes the town and gown relations where my children are attending college. My son lives in an apartment complex that was not at the top of residents’ lists for placement – right across from a high school. It has meant construction for some time. The traffic is an issue when students are trying to get to the university and teachers and students are trying to get to the high school at the same time. Other than that, I have not heard or read of issues.
But, my daughters go to a university that is trying to make the relations between town and gown smoother. Students, according to the neighbors, are wrecking neighborhoods by letting houses get run down, by throwing huge parties that lead to massive garbage around the neighborhood, by not having any respect for the house they live in or those around it. These are now minor issues in my mind.
My youngest daughter travels with her division one soccer team. The soccer game they were to play yesterday was postponed. Overnight Sat into Sun, people on the campus of Duquesne University who were not students shot at least six students. Three are currently still hospitalized. This is an extreme but probably more common than we want to admit result of bad campus/town relations. Evidently, there have been problems between the university and off campus people. Security needs to be tightened. The problem is that it is going to take a shooting for university officials to take care of it.