Hamden mayor offers suggestions to improve town-gown relations

By on October 22, 2015

Now that the university has called off its plans to build housing on York Hill, Hamden Mayor Curt Leng said he has other ideas to curb the conflicts between students who live off campus and their neighbors.

These ideas include the university requiring students to apply to live off campus in non-university owned housing.

“That allows the university [to have] some more control over real problematic locations,” Leng said. “Because the vast majority of our off-campus students are not causing problems in our neighborhoods, but the ones that do and do repeatedly should be dealt with.”

However, Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan said in a statement that the university has no plans to do this.

Senior Bianca Waffenschmidt lives off campus. She said the university should not have the right to do this anyway.

“If I want to rent a house just like any other person in the Hamden community I don’t have to apply to rent, I just have to work out something with the landlord to rent it,” she said.

For years, Hamden citizens have complained that students who live in residential areas are too noisy or destroy property. For example, residents became particularly frustrated in the fall of 2013 after the police broke up 14 different off-campus parties attended by hundreds of students. Several students were arrested that weekend.

But Leng said he does not want students to be arrested. He would rather have the university discipline students who consistently cause problems for police and residents.

“That’s not something I think is helpful to the student,” he said. “If someone’s just making some noise, I’m not looking to have them arrested, to have them have a record. Whereas if we’re working together with the university and we have a number of problems in a particular house, we could have a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ type of rule where the university then says look, you didn’t follow our code of conduct and you can’t live in the neighborhood.”

Leng also wants to have Resident Assistants (RA’s) patrol the neighborhoods, including the houses Quinnipiac does not own, with the police. This is something RAs did about 10 years ago with the police on some weekends, including May weekend, Leng said.

“So if there was a problem off campus they would address it as a combo package,” he said. “The RA would handle it from the student conduct side, the police department would handle it from the law enforcement side. The police chief expressed that that worked successfully, so I’m thinking that would be very helpful as well.”

The university also is not planning to have RAs patrol neighborhoods with the Hamden police, according to Morgan.

Waffenschmidt said she would not be happy if RAs patrolled with the police.

“I don’t see any reason why an RA should come to my house that I rent privately,” she said. “I mean not that I think that an RA would be called to my house because I’m not going to do anything that an RA would be coming to my house, even if I lived on campus, but they shouldn’t be coming into my private property anyway.”

But junior Chris Gardner said he wouldn’t have a problem with this.

“I think that that’s a good idea,” he said. “It would keep Hamden and the school happy and in good terms, so I suppose it’s not a big deal.”

Although the town and university conflict on off-campus housing issues, this does not mean they cannot work together in other ways, Leng said. Hamden and QU can collaborate on student-learning opportunities and infrastructure improvements that help both groups, he said.

“For whatever reason over time that hasn’t happened in every area with the university and the town,” Leng said. “I think it’s mainly because the increase in the off-campus housing has made it difficult because our residents are frustrated and as mayor of a town with 60,000 people, my first responsibility is to make sure that there neighborhoods are protected and when I mention those people those are the students living there too.”

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Year: 2016
Major: Print journalism