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Beyond the News

Jointly funded town-gown program draws wider interest

Community-driven strategies provide quality student housing while also maintaining neighborhood quality.
University Business, February 2015
Promos such as these remind off-campus residents to be neighborly in Fort Collins. Sophomores transitioning from on-campus housing attend a “Where I Live” workshop covering living expenses and rental agreements. Each August, staff, residents, and campus and city police hit the streets to distribute information on city residence codes and laws. And during a fall community cleanup, students offer to rake leaves and wash windows for their neighbors.
Promos such as these remind off-campus residents to be neighborly in Fort Collins. Sophomores transitioning from on-campus housing attend a “Where I Live” workshop covering living expenses and rental agreements. Each August, staff, residents, and campus and city police hit the streets to distribute information on city residence codes and laws. And during a fall community cleanup, students offer to rake leaves and wash windows for their neighbors.

From dealing with an increase in student housing to managing off-campus student conduct, Colorado State University and the city of Fort Collins have a more than decade-long partnership that’s become a model for other higher ed institutions and their hometowns.

CSU’s enrollment is expected to grow from 27,000 students to 35,000 within the next 10 to 20 years, and off-campus housing options will need to expand. The plan’s community-driven strategies provide quality student housing while also maintaining neighborhood quality.

The two entities partnered in 2001 to fund a community liaison position.

“Our model is really unique in the sense that the position is completely 50/50 between the university and town,” says Emily Allen, the current community liaison. “I have two offices, two phone numbers and two email addresses, as my time is spent equally between two different teams of people.”

Student informational programs on off-campus living are held throughout the year. And by registering an off-campus party, students get the opportunity to end it without police issuing citations if there is a noise complaint. Just 3 percent of registered parties have received citations since the program began, Allen adds.

Northern Arizona University and the city of Flagstaff are now examining the 2013 Student Housing Action Plan developed by CSU and Fort Collins.

When creating a town-gown partnership, “it’s all about the commitment,” Allen says. “The effort can’t be pushed from just one entity. It’s about coming together to build a strong relationship between the two.”

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