As the College and Ewing Township find themselves both more interdependent and more responsive with one another, the local Ewing Town Gown meetings have been assembled to broaden these relations. Their Tuesday, Feb. 5 meeting was an example of this goal — at its core, to improve student conduct in a community where residential concerns run high.
Both sides, preparing to tackle local issues, were represented on the board. Heading the meeting was Ewing Mayor Bert Steinmann, joined by Business Administrator James McManimon. Representing the College were Dean of Students Magda Manetas, Director of Housing Shawn Stalling and Student Government President Christina Kopka. Their mission statement: to “improve communications, analyze issues of common concern, and facilitate mutual participation in community, cultural and civic activities.”
These are overarching ambitions, but the meeting quickly channeled into a discussion on student behavior, particularly the call for more supervision and self-regulation.
Manetas illustrated the point with statistics on student incidents from the past semester. Approximately 51 occurred between August and September, with about 141 students involved. Sergeant Dave LaBaw of Ewing Police also discussed the 297 summonses handed out to students for various violations including a majority of underage drinking reports, noise ordinances and property maintenance.
Manetas hoped to offer solutions from the College. For one, a new student code of conduct has recently been instituted after several years of revision. This, she claimed, will help answer misbehavior rife in alternative housing settings and share information quicker with police.
“(The new code of conduct) articulated that off-campus behavior would be included in our violations and would be adjudicated on-campus,” said Manetas.
A representative of the College’s Inter Greek Council also spoke to the public, promising not only more dedicated strides towards disciplinary action within Greek life but also, to the community, greater outward respect.
But for Ewing residents, this would not be enough. Public comments expressed continuing cautions that the student population be more aware of its neighbors, some of whose doorsteps sit directly outside campus. Speakers proposed instituting more service programs, such as the successful Here for Home initiative, while others urged that cameras be erected to catch traffic flow in and out of campus.
Residents displayed their wishes to see students thrive without seeing their own livelihood invaded by late-night ruckus.
Flooded with suggestions, the Town Gown board has seen an increasing demand on their hands for action and strategy. There is potential for partnership between the College and the community if both sides can seek solutions together. Yet, by working directly with the student body to mold its conduct, the College has promised results, a work in progress within a community that just begins where the campus ends.