The majority of Tufts upperclassmen live off-campus in Medford and Somerville, due to the limited on-campus housing. While Tufts students make a serious effort to get involved in community events and issues, the growing number of students being pushed off campus is increasing town-gown tensions. Somerville residents interviewed by the Daily expressed common concerns stemming from student house parties, failure to clean up sidewalks and properties and a general lack of communication with neighbors.
Jim Monagle, a lifelong Somerville resident, spoke with the Daily by email. According to Monagle, noise and disruption caused by late-night house parties are a significant problem for residents. Since Tufts students often live next to families with young children, senior citizens and working people we should pay attention to the daily concerns of our neighbors.
“Parties need to end at a reasonable hour … If people are loud, take it inside; when guests leave the party, remind them to dial it back when they go outside and not wake up the neighborhood,” Monagle wrote.
Speaking for himself and his neighbors, Monagle requested that students clean up their porches and stop parking on front lawns.
Edward Beuchert, a member of the Board of Directors of the West Somerville Neighborhood Association, told the Daily in an email that the root of student disruption in the community is a “lack of friendly channels of communication.”
Beuchert explained that some students don’t share names or contact information with neighbors. This has led to a breakdown of connection between students and their neighbors and can pose a problem to both parties, as neighbors resort to calling the police or community officials if they do not have students’ contact information. If students want to have parties, it is essential that they contact their neighbors to let them know beforehand and to offer their contact information in the case that they have questions or concerns.
In addition to giving the public more information about parties, maintaining a connection with our neighbors can help facilitate dialogue about community issues, interests and events. In his email to the Daily, Beuchert talked about his own positive past experiences with connecting with Tufts students, including a time when he discovered he shared a passion for music with a student neighbor, who hosted a WMFO radio show that he regularly listened to.
“He invited me to be a guest on his show, which ultimately led to me becoming a community member of the station, and tremendously enriched my life through many friendships with other student and community DJs,” Beuchert wrote.
These sorts of neighborly relationships help bridge the town-gown divide, greatly enriching all our lives. It’s not hard to be a good neighbor, it often just requires that we be good people to those around us. The concerns expressed by Beuchert and Monagle demonstrate the community-wide need for Tufts students to be involved in neighborhood conversations and issues, as well as to be accountable for our actions in the community. As students living in Medford and Somerville we should value positive, open relationships with our neighbors. The Tufts bubble shouldn’t envelop off-campus houses too.