PLATTSBURGH — With many college students in Plattsburgh for the first time, they are being reminded to be respectful of those who call the area their home.
Sometimes, students get so wrapped up in university life, said Bill Laundry, vice president for student affairs at Plattsburgh State, they don’t stop to think about the fact that they are sharing their neighborhoods with non-student residents.
As a result, college kids have been known to leave garbage strewn about, cause unnecessary destruction to others’ property and neglect to consider how their noise levels might affect community members.
“A lot of times, students don’t disrespect intentionally,” Laundry said. “I think it’s inadvertent.”
Still, said longtime Plattsburgh resident Nancy Monette, “It really doesn’t honor our homes and the work that we’ve put in for 30, 40 years.”
Monette is one of the founders of Plattsburgh State’s Restorative Justice Program, which seeks to educate students who are found guilty of alcohol-related offenses about the consequences of their actions on both the community and themselves.
“In the past, when I’ve spoken to many of the students and worked with them, they said, ‘We’re really not aware of what we’re doing when we’re going through the neighborhoods,’” Monette said.
So, in an effort to spread awareness among students, Monette approached Plattsburgh State with an idea to post signs around the city promoting community respect.
“We’re always looking for ways to get people’s attention about, basically, being good neighbors,” said Laundry, who took Monette’s idea to the college’s Campus Community Coalition.
The coalition, comprising Plattsburgh State students, college officials and area residents, then created signs with the messages “Welcome to our newest community members” on one side and “Please respect your community. Pass it on” on the other.
The signs were posted on Draper Avenue and in the area between Broad, Cornelia, Beekman and Oak streets in Plattsburgh just as students began arriving for the fall semester.
“It’s one more little thing we can do to further college/community relations,” Laundry said.
Though the signs were only up during opening weekend, Laundry received positive feedback about them from local residents, and the college will likely use the signs again next fall.
Monette, however, would like to see the messages to students posted more frequently.
“I’m hoping that maybe the signs can go back out later in the semester as a reminder,” she said.
SWEET AND GREET
Before students arrived this fall, the Community Coalition brought boxes of brownie mix to the residents of homes located near college housing and encouraged them to pass the mix on to a student neighbor.
Doing so, Laundry said, provided an opportunity for local residents and students to meet face to face and establish a rapport with one another.
“It’s so much easier to deal person to person,” he said.
In addition, the coalition has organized a Meet the Neighbors event from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 12, which all students and members of the Plattsburgh community are invited to attend.
The event will feature hot dogs, chips and sodas for guests and will take place at four locations in Plattsburgh, each with a different host.
The fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi will host one of the gatherings at 22 Wells St.; the Sigma Delta Tau sorority will offer another at 149 Brinkerhoff St.; a third gathering will be put on by the Pi Alpha Nu fraternity at 7 William St.; and the last will be hosted by Monette at 3 Draper Ave.
Email Ashleigh Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org