Both sides of the story

Thoughts on town-gown relations from a resident/student

By on November 6, 2015

I was born in Hamden, have lived my whole life here and chose to go to school here. But to attend this school that seems to be at a constant war with my hometown is beyond frustrating. I like being a member of this university, but I love my hometown.

It takes everything in me not to stand up and scream when people from Quinnipiac criticize Hamden. It has, for one thing, taught me to keep my mouth shut and just ignore the ignorance on both sides since I am a part of both communities. I have a loyalty to the town that made me who I am, and I’m not one to turn my back on it. I also have a loyalty to this university, the one that houses my friends, employs me and is giving me my degree. It feels like having divorcing parents. Hamden is my mom, and Quinnipiac is my really rich dad. And now I’m old enough to understand what they’ve been fighting about all this time.

There’s so much more to Hamden than just Quinnipiac or town-gown drama. It seems like a lot of people think that Hamden would benefit from becoming a college town, but I disagree. My town doesn’t need to be simply reduced to a college town because Quinnipiac and Hamden can’t work out their problems.

I don’t want rowdy Quinnipiac students living in my neighborhood. I don’t want college kids living anywhere near me, period. Most people don’t. On the other hand, I don’t want my friends to have nowhere to sleep because Quinnipiac won’t build more housing, and they are rejected by the Hamden community.

The Quinnipiac community seemed to help Hamden’s economy when shuttles ran to the Hamden Plaza, but now the shuttle busses people to North Haven instead. It seems unfair to my town that students can live here but not support the local businesses. It feels like people are reaping the benefits of the town without giving anything back.

Quinnipiac students were encouraged to vote in the Nov. 3 mayoral election, and busses were provided. It’s great if people want to participate and exercise their right to vote, but is it really fair to Hamden residents who have lived here for years for Quinnipiac students to vote? It doesn’t seem right that students can live here for only four years and vote for something that really won’t affect them long term, like it will affect me or any other Hamden resident. If students were planning on putting down roots in Hamden and live here for longer than just their undergraduate years, that would be different. Then the elections would really affect them, and they should vote accordingly. But in most cases, that’s not the case.

If you want to live and vote here, you should become a positive part of the community. Take advantage of all the opportunities Hamden has to offer other than Quinnipiac’s campuses. Students can support the businesses around Hamden, attend local events and even volunteer at various places. There are several events and volunteer opportunities at the Miller Library on Dixwell Avenue. There’s also a farmer’s market full of local businesses that camps out in the library’s parking lot for several weeks when the weather is warmer.

The truth is, I never cared much for Quinnipiac or noticed it and the problems it posed before I started going here. It was just a college that happened to be in my town. Some people still see it that way. A lot of the problems primarily affect people in the surrounding Whitney Avenue/West Woods neighborhood, but they can potentially affect everyone in Hamden.

I want for the effects to be positive and not negative. I want to be proud of the college I go to and be proud to be a member of both amazing communities.

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About Kristen Riello

Creative Director
Interactive Digital Design Major
Class of 2017
Kristen was formerly the Design Editor.
Twitter: @KristenRiello