Viewpoints

“Viewpoints” is a collection of articles from different geographical regions discussing Town Gown interactions.”

NUS: Harmony between town and gown
June 2007 UK

This week the National Union of Students launched its ‘Students in the community: working together to achieve harmony’ report, writes NUS president Gemma Tumelty. It responds to the challenges of ‘studentificiation’ and explains how students and students union can contribute to positive local communities. The NUS wants to see balanced communities. We’re not necessarily convinced it’s best for students to make up 75% of the population of any road, but legislating for this is unfair, impractical, not a long-term solution.

If local councils invest in infrastructure – for example, better travel links – we are confident students will broaden their view of where they chose to live, potentially providing vital regeneration and economic growth to run-down areas of cities. Investment of this kind, combined with student unions becoming more involved in their local communities, could really mark a sea change in relations.(Go to Article)

Editors note: The NUS  should be commended in its efforts to address town gown issues. More feedback focusing on the specifc planning issues around maintaining a balance in near campus communities would be appreciated. The idea of looking at transportation infrastructure planning is a good one, and needs further discussion. Highlighting the many positive attributes that students bring to their host communities may be needed, but this does not address how to maintain/develop a balanced neighbourhood.

Students’ Lives: Scotland’s Future – Housing Manifesto
May, 2007
Scottish students have launched a housing manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2007. This manifesto, which students are seeking to be adopted by all major political parties, sets out students’ needs in terms of accommodation and housing.

Speaking on the publication, James Alexander (NUS Scotland President) said:

“Our vision for the future of student housing recognises that regulation plays a critical role in addressing the vulnerability of student tenants. It values and promotes community and tackles the unjust experiences of thousands of students in Scotland.“The experience of having a rogue or absentee landlord is not only distressing for students, but burdens the whole community. This manifesto demonstrates that the answer is not to limit the number of properties for rent in local communities, but to protect and empower the tenants within them.” (Go to Manifesto)

Editors Comment:  This is a concisely written report endorsing the need for Landlord registration, the licensing of houses of multiple occupation (HMO’s), and landlord accreditation. There  is much common ground between the views of student groups and neighbourhood groups in these discussions, and both parties may be wise to leverage any collaborative possibilities these issues may bring.

The Town and Gown Dilemma:
The Impact of Universities on their Host Municipalities
Feb 2007 USA

Pennsylvania’s universities are terrific economic and social assets, both regionally and statewide. But what’s the bottom line impact on their host municipalities?Leaders of host municipalities have maintained for decades that they absorb most of the direct and indirect costs associated with hosting a university – while the economic benefits are spread over a much wider area.

To test this assertion and to begin to identify the real impact of universities on the host municipality, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and five municipalities commissioned a study. Participating municipalities – each hosts to state universities – include the City of Lock Haven, the Town of Bloomsburg, and the Boroughs of Edinboro, Millersville, and West Chester. The Pennsylvania Economy League, Central Division, completed the study, which was first released in November of 2006.

The study found that the balance between the economic and social benefits generated by state universities and the growing demand for services as these facilities expand is difficult to maintain. And current momentum is unfavorable for many of the municipalities, which host universities. This is critical for municipalities – and should be important to universities as well. Deterioration of services such as public safety or recreation, or increasing levels of fiscal distress, might well have the effect of making state universities less attractive to prospective students, faculty and administrators. (Go to Article)

Sustainable Communities
National HMO lobby UK

If the National HMO Lobby resists concentrations of HMOs, this is because of our concern for the sustainability of our communities. (Indeed, sustainability is in the title of some of our members – Sustainable Communities [Scotland], Campaign for the Sustainability of Canterbury.) Concentrations of HMOs present a unique threat to these communities. They tend not only to have a detrimental impact on the character and amenity of a neighbourhood – they also undermine the very pre-requisite for a sustainable community, which is a balanced and stable population. By their very nature, concentrations of HMOs distort the population balance and introduce a transient population.(Go to Article)

 

The real value of university-community partnerships
2006 USA

At a CURP-hosted Urban Affairs Association conference in Boston, the topic of university-community partnerships was more prevalent than in years past. Many conference evaluations gave kudos to the inclusion of town/gown matters in the three-day event, one attendee lauding it as a “timely choice.” Around the country – seemingly more than ever – universities are now leading neighborhood revitalization projects, providing affordable housing, establishing community health centers, and serving as technical assistance providers for a range of issues.

How do you feel about the role of universities in leading neighborhood change? Why is it that community outreach on the part of universities has become a popular source of debate among academics and fodder for media attention? Are more partnerships actually taking place, or are they just better-publicized? Is the community’s point of view well-represented in the discussion? Is the story of universities transforming from neighborhood isolationists to incubators of neighborhood revitalization an accurate one? And if so, does the cause for the transformation rest more with self-interest or altruism? What issue areas naturally lend themselves to university-community partnerships, and why? At the end of the day, who is better served by town/gown collaboration – residents who live near institutions of higher education, or university public relations offices? (Full Story)