This morning, a group of about 50 volunteers from Kansas University fraternities will be carrying a message to their fellow students living in the Oread Neighborhood: Be a good neighbor.
They’ll be informing students about noise ordinances, asking them to pick up after themselves and to be considerate of those living around them.
It’s the first in a series of new Good Neighbor initiatives designed to curb issues that can arise among students and the permanent residents living nearby. City government leaders and KU officials have worked together to launch the program.
“We see this as a figurative and literal first step,” said Tim Caboni, KU’s vice chancellor for public affairs, who has been working with city leaders during the past few months.
KU has set up a website, studentaffairs.ku.edu/goodneighbor, with a variety of resources for students, including information on city ordinances, tips on managing the landlord/tenant relationship and links to on-campus resources that can assist with issues that may arise.
Lawrence City Commissioner Hugh Carter said he has been working on a plan with KU officials after attending a conference in Colorado that addressed a variety of town and gown matters. Those discussions have been positive so far, he said.
“We’re still in the beginning steps,” he said. “But it’s a very big step.”
Carter said the university and the city are working on a hotline for residents to call to report issues they may have with students in the area. A board with representation from the neighborhood, landlords, student residents and other stakeholders could help address communication issues between students and their neighbors, he said.
“Hopefully, what we’ll end up with is an ambassador program,” Carter said, adding that such a program could help compile a database of phone numbers for residents in the area.
Caboni said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little is supportive of the new collaborative efforts with the city.
“We’ll grow from here, get better from here and build from here,” he said.
Candice Davis, co-chairwoman of the Oread Residents Association, has seen her fair share of issues during her 14 years in the city. While some students are good neighbors and add to the vitality of the neighborhood, others can pose problems, she said.
“We see young people doing things they would never do if they were at their parents’ house,” she said.
Trash is a big issue, said Davis, who occasionally sees the remnants of a fast-food meal left just feet from a Dumpster. Other times, parties will run late into the night with noise levels that disrupt sleeping neighbors.
“I think they forget that they are actually in a neighborhood, and there are people that live here and own property,” she said.
Davis said she welcomed the proposed changes.
“We’ve tried to do this for a long, long time,” she said.