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Central Aims to Bridge Gap With Neighborhoods

by Tyler Roaix

Central Connecticut State University is a school that gives a lot of options to its students. Most notably, it gives people the ability to live off-campus and commute to school.

Many students choose to rent apartments and house off-campus, closeby to the school, to give them the freedom of having their own privacy, but leaving them just a short drive or walk away from class. Unfortunately, some students have taken advantage of that privilege over time, which has caused friction between the school and the surrounding neighborhoods of New Britain.

According to statistics taken directly from the CCSU Campus Security Report, also known as the Clery Report, the biggest changes are those that are related to drug and liquor violations. An interesting trend shows that while drug abuse violations steadily dropped from 2014-2016, liquor law violations skyrocketed from 2015-2016.

When it comes to trying to minimize these numbers and improve relations between CCSU and the surrounding areas, that falls on the shoulder of the Town and Gown Coalition.

The Town and Gown Coalition is designed to work to improve Central’s relationship with Belvedere neighborhoods. The coalition highlights some of its accomplishments since its revival in 2006, including implementing a social norms campaign, a “Programs on the GO” program and starting programs to prevent drug abuse.

Don Naples has served as Alderman in Ward Four in New Britain and also as liaison to the Town and Gown Coalition at CCSU for four years. He has worked alongside fellow Alderman Robert Smedley in helping improve the CCSU presence in the school’s surrounding neighborhoods.

Naples was the one who spearheaded a project that featured a “Student Responsibilities” brochure. The brochure gives students who live off-campus recommendations on how to live peacefully within the New Britain community.

According to Dr. Peter Troiano, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs, the Town and Gown Coalition has made the brochure available to incoming students at orientation.

“The brochure is available at every orientation, but many incoming students are either commuters or are in on-campus housing. But since this is a neighborhood initiative, it has much more to do with students who live off-campus in New Britain, but we absolutely make it available whenever students come into the school.”

Troiano also shared how the coalition is working on a new brochure, hopefully available by the next Town and Gown meeting, Nov. 13.

“The new brochure is one that we have been working on for quite a while,” Troiano said. “We would like to have it to print next week. That way, we can show it at the next Town and Gown meeting in a couple weeks.”

Overall, Naples highlights the adaptation of all administrative parties and their willingness to have a more physical presence in the community.

Naples discussed how CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro has shown strength and focus in working with the community since taking over in January.

“There have been a lot of big improvements since the new administration took over,” Naples said. “Ultimately, everything reflects what the president conveys and she [Toro] has been a breath of fresh air.”

Naples shared how Toro made a big impression during the first Town and Gown meeting, which took place on Sept. 28. According to Naples, Toro stayed for the entire meeting, gave her own presentation and even took questions from those in attendance.

“People were definitely surprised because they weren’t used to a president being so involved,” Naples observed.

Troiano shared a similar sentiment to Naples.

“I don’t know of any specific plans, but Dr. Toro has taken a focus to the Town and Gown initiative. She has been working with them extensively so I’m sure there will be something in place very soon.”

The Town and Gown has three scheduled meetings over the next calendar year. The most recent was held on Monday, Nov. 13 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Room at the New Britain Police Department. The next two will take place March 26, 2018 and May 7, 2018.