The number one school in 2002. Number three in 2003. Again, ranked first in 2004.

Most colleges would boast such high rankings given by the Princeton Review. But in this case, not Fairfield, which received top rankings for the worst town-gown relations among the off-campus community.

Town and campus officials hope the University is off the list for good after this year, when relations have been improving, according to the town and University.

Problems and complaints are common among student beach residents and full-time residents.

“It’s night and day,” Fairfield’s First Selectman Ken Flatto said, “Things have vastly improved.”

The Mirror reported that the statistics on the number of documented incidents in the beach area [the vicinity bordered by Fairfield Beach Road, Edward Street, and part of Reef Road] was the lowest it had been in the previous two years.

Common offenses are town ordinance violations, public disturbances, and possession of alcohol by minors. Noise complaints and issued violations have decreased, although there has been an increase in alcohol violations.

Duane Melzer, the University’s off-campus coordinator, sees improvements as the result of several efforts from all parties involved. According to Melzer, friendlier relations are due in part to the enforced zero-tolerance policy instituted towards law-breaking at Fairfield Beach.

“The opposing life styles were to blame,” said Melzer. “Students begin their evenings when non-students are ending theirs … Once the previously mentioned policies took effect we saw a reduction in disruptive behavior.”

Molly Considine ’08 lives on The Point, where many University students live in town.

“As far as the town relations with students, I’ve found that as long as you respect the town residents, they will respect you,” Considine said.

Erin Hickey ’08, president of the Student Beach Resident Association, said an improvement is due to students becoming aware of the families living near the student beach residents. The students have learned that it is advantageous to work with the town, police, and administration rather than to fight the rules implemented.

“The school has also done a great job of making us aware of the consequences of our actions and what a privilege it is to live at the beach,” Hickey said.

University and town officials do not believe the Princeton Review’s rankings were completely justified.

“It was blown out of proportion,” Flatto said.

Flatto believes the University did not deserve the worst ranking for town-gown relations in the country by the Princeton Review. He is sure that in looking at the big picture, there are other schools with worse relations with the towns.

“I hope that future rankings will give Fairfield a benevolent look,” said Flatto, “and that students feel the town is good to them.”

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.