Temple students can be good neighbors

At times, the off-campus scene around Temple University could be called “suburban kids gone wild,” but banning new apartments for students makes as much sense as arresting them for being young.

Loud parties, trash tossed out daily, and violent confrontations, including one in which a student and a mugger shot each other, show a community in crisis.

North Philadelphia residents talk beneath signs advertising rentals for Temple students. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)

That means everyone — the university, students, city officials, landlords, and neighborhood residents — must take responsibility.

Students should not see their education as solely learning about physics and Shakespeare. They must learn to be adults, respectful of their host communities.

When Temple stopped being a commuter school, it did not have enough dorm space to handle the students. They overwhelmed the area. But those students, and their parents’ money, help support a new grocery store and movie theater, which benefit all. Their apartments replaced unkempt buildings and lots.

Universities are jewels in this region, offering decent-paying jobs, drawing employers looking for a sophisticated workforce, and contributing to our vibrant civic and intellectual life.

To that end, Temple and some landlords helped pay for a Neighborhood Improvement District study aimed at beefing up off-campus security. They should look across town and to West Chester for some ideas.

St. Joseph’s University students renting in Overbrook and Wynnefield must register with the university so it knows exactly who is living where. The school visits the apartments, hands the students trash bags, alerts them to pickup days, and tells them how to be good neighbors. The school also hired off-duty police to patrol the area, and a private firm that does bicycle patrols.

West Chester cut back on town-and-gown tensions by making links between the community and West Chester University formal. When student drinking is likely to increase, such as during the World Series, neighbors and university personnel walk the streets where students live with an eye out for trouble. They headed off student plans for a day of partying like the annual St. Patrick’s Day pilgrimage to Penn State.

Councilman Darrell L. Clarke should withdraw his bill that would prohibit virtually all new off-campus housing. It would be better for him to work with landlords to create a neighborhood improvement district that would charge landlords a fee to cover security and cleaning. District authorities could also act as a replacement for the resident managers students have in a dorm.