Programs assist in ‘town-gown’

 

The Office of Student Community Relations continues to strive for improved relationships with the community. 

With programs such as the Community Coalition and Have a Heart Campaign, Burlington community members, UVM students and staff can work together to cultivate a better understanding of each other. 

In previous years, frustrated Burlington residents would complain about noise, trash and vandalism during the late hours in their neighborhood. 

The Have a Heart Campaign works directly with students and neighbors on raising student awareness about late-night noise on Burlington’s neighborhoods. 

“For a while, we have been handing out fliers [that] children in the neighborhoods wrote with Champlain Chocolates to remind students that we do live in a community,” said senior Katie Rifken, Chair of Committee on Legislative Action for the Student Government Assocation.

“We have had really positive responses from students and neighbors,” she said. 

Other programs to improve relationship have included the Neighborhood Clean Up, where 40 students helped pick up trash after Halloween, and even a pumpkin-carving contest held for the children in the neighborhood. 

In the past two years, the Community Coalition has held the Common Ground Summit, which brings community members, landlords and students to sit down and discuss issues in the neighborhood.

Event such as the Spring Move Out Project, SMOP, are held at the end of May for students who wanting to get rid of unwanted household items without having to pollute the streets of Burlington. 

Other students have found it difficulties interacting with their neighbors. 

“My neighbors are an elderly couple and we don’t have much in common,” senior John Little said. “We haven’t had any complains but my roommates and I do feel that we are treated differently because we are students.”

“I had some flooding in my house in May and the basement was an entire inch underwater.” he said. “It took me two weeks to contact the landlord, I called him several times and left a couple of voicemails but he wouldn’t reply. If an older couple had lived here, he wouldn’t have taken so long to respond.” 

Students should consider investing in renter’s insurance, which covers stolen property, fire damage and other accidents, he said. 

Students who wish to learn more about off-campus housing can attend the Off-Campus Living Workshop on Nov. 16 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Livak Ballroom in the Davis Center held by the Office of Student and Community Relationships. At the workshop, students can receive tips from different panelist on safety, rights as a tenant, property protection and City resources available to them.

Students that attend the workshop will receive the UVM Preferred Renters Card. 

“It feels that sometimes students live in a bubble,” Rifken said. “It is hard to feel with the community, but our interactions define everyone’s quality of life.”