Bridging the Gap
Can college students and established members of a community live together?
“I just can't believe students are actually happy,” said Nancy Monette, resident of Draper Avenue since 1971.
Monette is referring to off-campus students. More accurately, she is referring to the students living in sub-par student-housing throughout the neighboring blocks of Plattsburgh State University College.
As students become juniors and seniors at Plattsburgh State University College, they migrate out of the dorms and into off-campus housing. Several streets are composed of all student-housing, but in some cases, like Draper Avenue, it's a mix of students and local residents.
“I wouldn't call it a mix, I don't know anybody on this block,” Draper resident David Betsch said. “I don't think students can mix well with the community at any campus.”
Monette is a wife and mother to six children and has seen her peaceful neighborhood slowly deteriorating over time. With the students moving into the neighborhood, the quality of living went down the drain. Problems such as noise, littering and overall appearance have been reported as getting worse. At first, it may seem that trying to connect with these students seemed pointless, but Nancy has met the local AXP fraternity boys.
“Our 'Meet the Neighbors' event gives us a really good chance to establish a relationship with the community and allows us get to know everyone aside from students, like Monette,” president of the AXP fraternity, James Nieke said. “It's a very relaxed and informal event and we encourage anybody to attend.”
“Things just aren't in place to make anything better for the students.”
Before going to one of their ‘Meet the Neighbors' events, Monette was hesitant to step foot on the fraternity house porch that has an uncanny resemblance to the frat house seen in the movie “Animal House.” Nevertheless, after meeting all the guys, they created a bond and to this day, she has constant visits from the local fraternity and even the occasional pool party. She realized maybe all students aren't totally responsible for the condition of the surrounding streets, and a lot of the blame can be placed on certain individuals.
“It's only a few kids that really discolor the goodness,” Monette said. “Things just aren't in place to make anything better for the students.”
Monette works hard in the community with help from other residents, such as vice president of student affairs, William Laundry, the local Greek life and other local officials. After attending a workshop in Colorado, Monette is approaching the current problems and issues mentioned earlier by trying to establish relationships with students, rather than using negative force.
She feels if everyone knew each other in the neighborhood it would humanize the situation a little bit. Students can realize when they come stumbling home from downtown on weekends, 3the noise and immature behavior affects somebody they know.
“The city and landlords need to take greater responsibility about these conditions”
It's not hard to realize when students move into a house that is already in a disastrous state and hardly up to par with building codes, it's disheartening and can be hard for students to keep a positive attitude and to maintain the house. “The city and landlords need to take greater responsibility about these conditions,” Monette said. “It's much easier to live happy when there are guidelines to follow.”
Meet the Neighbors
Alpha Chi Rho (AXP), has this event twice a year. In the fall, the porch
is open for you to go meet the fraternity and other members of the community.
During the Fall semester, AXP serves apple cider and other treats for
the people who attend, and in the spring they have Michigans.
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