Castleton is a quaint little town. The bakeries, general store, diner and churches add to the old Vermont feel that many people crave. It’s peaceful and it’s understandable why it attracts people of many different age groups.
It’s not until the weekend nights that things change. College students go to parties off campus and sometimes have a disregard for other people who live in the town. Unfortunately for most of the students at Castleton University, it is only a select few who ruin it for the rest of them.
Residents of Castleton have had some major issues with these few people in the past, and it is important for some of them that the relationship between the town and CU improves because without the money coming in from CU, the town would likely have financial struggles.
“We are working with the college to build relationships with the students, and we’re hoping the community members will take advantage of this, because we like having the college here,” Martha Molnar, a member of the community, said at the part-time job fair at Castleton University on Sept. 8.
Chrispin White, the director of the Robert T. Stafford Center for the Support and Study of Community at CU, had a lot to say on the matter.
“We’re improving. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open between the town and the college because it’s best when we come together and share ideas,” White said. “We’re trying to create opportunities where students can meet the residents of the town.”
A committee has met three times to create a panel of townspeople for the students to come talk to and get to know.
“I would definitely go to that. I think it would be good for the town to know that not all of us are throwing cans on their lawns and drunkenly screaming on the weekends,” junior Lacy Parmenter said.
But some say they already do know that.
“Ideally we would be able to eliminate some of the bad behavior. It gives the good students a bad rap,” said resident Sue Day.
White said the college is putting forth more effort than it has in the past to try to get students involved off campus. During orientation, first-year students were sent out to different job sites to help clean up the town. Bekah Jensen, an orientation leader, was assigned an off-campus project.
“We went to Dewey Field in Castleton on North Road. We had to paint the bleachers for the rec field, and had to take inventory on sports equipment that is stored there,” Jensen said.
In Jensen’s opinion, however, that’s not all it takes.
“Introducing the incoming students to building good relations with the university and the townspeople has always been a part of the Castleton way. Doing various campus and community projects during orientation weekend with the new students only goes so far, it takes students' positive actions and attitudes throughout the whole semester and year to build upon those initial connections,” Jensen said.
Overall, both students and residents realize there are things that need to be done on both sides of the equation, and both are making more of an effort to do so.
“We want Castleton students to view this as their town, too. Not just where the school is located. This is where you’re living for four or more years. We want you to see this as your home,” Molnar said.
If anyone wants to get more involved or simply learn more about the issues at hand, White’s office is located above the Coffee Cottage and his extension is 1431.