A ‘more proactive’ approach to foster better student, neighbor relations

As St. Thomas students return to campus, neighbors have definitely noticed an increase in local traffic.

“I personally look forward to the energy and vitality of students in the fall,” neighbor Scott Banas said. He said he enjoys the sound of students cheering at football games while raking his lawn.

He likes meeting students who are “courteous, polite and try to get along with neighbors for the most part.” However, Banas also notices students who don’t make that effort.

<p>St. Thomas neighborhood liaison John Hershey sits down with TommieMedia to discuss what students can do to improve relationships with our local community.</p>
St. Thomas neighborhood liaison John Hershey sits down with TommieMedia to discuss what students can do to improve relationships with our local community.

Banas has observed disruptive student behavior and he said “student rowdiness” creates tension between students and neighbors. His biggest concern is that someone will get hurt.

Advisory committee’s aim to improve relations

Banas is a co-chair for the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee that is working with St. Thomas to improve neighborhood relationships.

The university and WSNAC are launching a plan this year that Doug Hennes, WSNAC member and vice president for university and government relations, calls “more proactive.” The initiative involves several campus offices and is supposed to encourage better student-neighbor relations.

“[Last] September was a really bad month as far as noise issues [and] public disturbances,” Hennes said. “Our city council member said let’s look at what we can do to be more proactive during the 2010-2011 school year… to encourage better behavior.”

Neighborhood walk-throughs

St. Thomas neighborhood liaison and WSNAC co-chair John Hershey has been answering calls from unhappy neighbors for several years now. Every school year, he talks to neighbors and gives out his phone number. This year he passed out 1,500 letters and magnet clips with contact information for Public Safety, the St. Paul Police Department and university offices.

Commuter Center volunteers and USG neighborhood senators talked Thursday with off-campus students about living in the neighborhood. They also passed out contact information and brochures to help students.

Commuter Center area manager Josh Hengemuhle encourages students to get to know their neighbors.

“It has to go both ways,” Hengemuhle said, “It can’t just be all on the students to go out and meet new people as well.”

“Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Hershey helped hang up posters around campus reminding students to think, “What would Mr. Rogers do?”

He tells students to be smart and have standards. “Being a good neighbor is one of them,” he said.

Hennes’ advice to students is to “respect people’s privacy and property. It’s real simple.”

Study looks at St. Thomas student, neighbor relations in long term

WSNAC recently hired Louis Smith Partners to study how to promote neighborhood livability in the long term. The study is still in its initial research phases.

“The goal is to identify issues and particularly come up with…any partnership or sort of thing we can do with the neighbors,” Hennes said.

He expects Louis Smith Partners will spend most of fall researching before it reports its suggestions and ideas to WSNAC, but no set timeline has been established.

Theresa Malloy can be reached at mall5754@stthomas.edu.

9 Replies to “A ‘more proactive’ approach to foster better student, neighbor relations”

  1. College students are in COLLEGE. They are not adults in the real world. Let the kids live for 4 maybe 5 years of their lives before they have to take on the full responsibility of the world. If you can’t handle living 5 blocks from a college campus, then don’t live there. This isn’t an elementary school, it is a College and with it comes the expectation of behaviors that most adults in the world wouldn’t appreciate.

  2. Mr. Mettcalf,
    I must vehemently disagree with you. There are far more constructive ways to have fun than reckless behavior, and there is no excuse for the reckless behavior that takes place among certain groups of students at colleges all across the U.S., including at St. Thomas. Not only is this behavior harmful to those who partake in it, but it also impacts those of us that do not partake in it. When people hear about the reckless behavior that goes on at college campuses, they assume that all college students partake in it, and negative stereotypes about colleges and college students are developed, even though not all students engage in reckless behavior. Those stereotypes, I would argue, also keep this behavior going, because I think that some freshmen feel that being a college student means that you have to get drunk, have to use drugs, and/or have to engage in casual sex, even those this is by no means the case. It’s a sad situation, and I think it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed at colleges all across the U.S.

  3. Mr. Metcalf,
    Personally, I think the reckless behavior is a direct result of the widespread spiritual poverty and hunger for meaning amongst many people in my generation, but there are probably other reasons for it as well.

  4. LOL! I’ll take laughing with sinners too; don’t think we have a whole lot of choice, though!
    I don’t think the neighborhood is trying to go out and cry “Repent ye College students!” in the streets over our “spiritual poverty”. They really just want kids to stay off their lawns and quit making noise at 2 a.m. in residential areas. Also, I like to think that I’m a smart, mature adult, even though I’m a “college student in COLLEGE”. There’s no problem with people having fun, (even, heaven forbid, reckless fun!!) but don’t do it at the expense of the neighborhood’s well being. People living five blocks from campus are in a pretty nice area of St. Paul, probably paying pretty hefty mortgages and living expenses. We’re here for just a few years. Why are we trying to tell THEM to get lost?

  5. There’s a difference between being silly and being reckless, Ms. Coulter, and I never said that there was anything wrong with having fun. Quite the contrary, I had a blast during my four years at UST. However, fun does not equal getting drunk, engaging in reckless behavior, using drugs, or having sex out of wedlock. Those things dehumanize people, whereas genuine joy and happiness make you more human and help you become more fully the person you were meant to be. I know I’m getting a bit philosophical here, but this is a topic that I care about a lot.

  6. Both the school and the neighborhood have been here since time immemorial. (By “time immemorial”, I of course mean “the Harrison Administration”. ) Both the students and the neighbors have a responsibility, as Christians and as decent human beings, to subordinate their desires somewhat in order to make the area a better, more livable place for the other side.

    Most of the time, I think the neighbors and the students are both to blame for the problems that sometimes come up. Then I read comments like Mr. Metcalf’s, and I am appalled and disgusted. We’re in college; we’re living away from home; we’re responsible for our own behaviour in a way we’ve never been before. We’re supposed to be *grown-ups* now.

    Listen up, UST students, each and every one of you: Don’t be a jerk. Put another way: don’t be a sinner.

    And, as an aside, whoever thinks that saints laugh less than sinners doesn’t know very much about either.

  7. This is a ridiculous argument. St. Thomas was around before 98% of you neighbors were born or better yet lived where you live. You made a choice to live where you live just as students make the choice to go out and “be reckless”. Not condoning it but let’s be honest, our curfew isn’t 10pm or 12 am or even 2am. Think about it our library is open untill 2am so I don’t find it unusual that college kids are partying untill 2am. Like I said you choose to live where you live so maybe you didn’t do your homework or think about the possible downside when living in a college neighborhood. Also, I have a hard time imagining you neighbors were all perfect citizens when you werre in college. If you were than good for you, but you probably had an idea of what goes on at all colleges (at least to some degree or at least the potential) so you should have taken that into consideration when deciding to live where you do. I think UST offers a lot more than some rowdy students and its getting a bit overshadowed and quite frankly annoying that this keeps getting so much attention and that UST is actually paying a consulting firm to study it. Waste of money, and not happy my tutition is being spent to make neighbors happy.

  8. The “neighbors” cried wolf to many times. They; phone, have meetings, and turn in petitions. They protest when St Thomas wants to do something good for the neighborhood with its land (like building tennis courts) and use St Thomas land as a dumping ground for the neighborhood dogs. Lots of responsible students are paying to feed the neighbors endless quest for control of St. Thomas. Students should come first and not last on St. Thomas list of “making people happy”. Protesting tennis courts and treatment of students (at the tennis courts neighbor’s meeting) was a real, cry wolf, joke.

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