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September 29, 2023

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Town Gown plan meant to improve relations between residents, students

Daniel Gordon, first ward representative for city council, presented on Wednesday a plan for city and University collaboration to a group of seven people.

The plan, called Town Gown, showed how the city can collaborate with University students and city residents, Gordon said.

Gordon and other city council members got the idea from other university towns in Ohio.

“[City Council] took a trip down to Oxford, Ohio, to talk to Miami University officials about policy tools they’re using to benefit that town gown relationship,” Gordon said.

Gordon put the plan forth because he wants to be able to improve the quality of life in Bowling Green.

“Students don’t see BG as their home . . . [they] just see it as a stomping ground for four years,” Gordon said.

Gordon’s city and University town gown plan is currently being drafted and includes students and not just University administrators, Gordon said.

“Engaging students has been a prime concern of mine,” Gordon said.

Since students sometimes see the city as their “stomping ground” and not an actual town, this leads city residents to have negative stereotypes about students.

Increasing city projects is another idea Gordon had in his collaboration plan.

“The second initiative that we are working on is a neighborhood cleanup campaign. This would be led by students and would be an active attempt to address the stereotype of students as not doing a good job of keeping the area clean and safe,” Gordon said.

Another way to get the students and residents to work together is through campus city council meetings.

President of city council and second ward representative John Zanfardino was also at the meeting and supported Gordon’s plans.

“I hear from residents but I rarely hear from students . . . I would love to hear from people,” Zanfardino said.

Zanfardino backs Gordon’s plans because “the more there is collaboration [between students and residents] the more stereotypes break down.”

Student involvement is also wanted because of the impact students can have in the community.

In 2009, the city banned discrimination against the LGBT community. Zanfardino credits the ban passing in the polls because of the students.

“It was the student involvement that made that [LGBT discrimination ban] possible,” Zanfardino said.

Jailyn Harris, a senior and Undergraduate Student Government member, was at the presentation because of her involvement with USG. Having Gordon speak opened Harris’ eyes.

Trying to balance the fact that Bowling Green is not just a college town but a community is something that students struggle with, Harris said.

“We do need to have a campus and city collaboration,” she said.

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