College President R. Barbara Gitenstein sent out a campus-wide e-mail last Tuesday night listing the policies, expectations and responsibilities for those students living off campus.
It was sent, according to Matthew Golden, assistant director for Public Information, for two reasons: the College has been receiving complaints from Ewing Township regarding off-campus student behavior, and the College wanted to remind students of its off-campus policies.
The subject of the campus-wide e-mail was “Advisory Regarding Off Campus Behavior.”
“It’s a message that needs to get out,” Golden said, adding that sending the e-mail was “something (the College) would do anyway.”
“I know we received reports (of violations); that occurs every year,” Golden said.
Two of the most common violations are not properly keeping up the appearance of the property and having large gatherings or noise in the evenings, according to Golden.
The total number of complaints is not known since complaints come from a variety of sources to different departments, Golden said.
“As an institution, we have strived to build a strong relationship with the local community and to be regarded as a valued neighbor,” Gitenstein said.
In the e-mail, she wrote “The College, in partnership with the Township of Ewing, will address inappropriate behavior in a serious manner” and advised, “If you live off campus, you are expected to be a good neighbor, be responsible for the behavior of your guests, communicate with your neighbors and landlord to resolve issues, and know all local ordinances.”
The president consulted a number of people and departments in drafting the advisory, including College and Community Relations, Golden said.
After the advisory was sent out, Ewing Township was notified.
“So they’re aware we’re trying to be a good neighbor,” Golden said.
He said the township officials did not request for the advisory to be sent out and were not consulted in drafting it.
Patrice Coleman-Boatwright, director of College and Community Relations, said she went to Ewing Township’s council meeting at 7 p.m. that same night, just two hours after the advisory was sent out, and showed those in attendance a copy of the e-mail.
“The Ewing Township Council members and those township neighbors who attended the Council meeting were extremely appreciative that President Gitenstein sent the e-mail out,” Coleman-Boatwright said. “They viewed it as a great step toward building strong relationships with the community. All council members verbally acknowledged the positive tone that the letter suggests.”
Jim McManimon, administrator of Ewing Township, said, “We’re very appreciative of the letter the president sent. This is not just a new relationship – this is an ongoing discussion.”
Township council members have had many conversations with Gitenstein and Coleman-Boatwright to work on the relationship, McManimon said.
McManimon said he hears many complaints, but declined to discuss them in detail.
“We expect the students to be mature,” he said. “Every year, there are good students and students that could be better.”
“Our students, faculty and staff members are the face of (the College) and it is important for everyone to understand that being a representative of the College brings certain responsibilities and expectations,” Gitenstein said.
Golden agreed. “We just want to see all our students being respectful members of the community,” he said.
However, Alex Liberton, sophomore computer science major, said he doubts many students took the e-mail seriously.
“I figured it was one of those random e-mails that most kids would just delete as junk,” Liberton said. “Reading over the guidelines in that e-mail they sent out, it seems like that’s all common sense stuff.”
Ryan Moriarty, sophomore business administration-management major, agreed, but noted that students can no longer use the excuse that they were unaware of the consequences of their off-campus behavior.
“I don’t think people realize that there can be repercussions from the College (for bad behavior) even though they live off campus,” he said. “Now, they can’t say they didn’t know.”
The e-mail referred readers to the College’s Student Handbook for more information on policies, procedures and the student code of conduct.
The handbook can be found online at tcnj.edu/~studlife/handbook/index.html.