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ISSUE 119 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/21/2006

Housing limitations discussed

By April Wright
Variety Editor


Friday, April 21, 2006

This school year has been filled with confusion and apprehension for St. Olaf students who want to live off campus next year.

After noise complaints from neighbors and threats of restrictions from various community members, rumors of a severe crackdown on off-campus housing have swirled around campus.

Most of the measures assumed to be going into effect –- - such as a two student per house limit – are false.

According to Dean of Students Greg Kneser, "nothing is changing from the college side."

Currently, St. Olaf policy states that students who receive more than one police citation can be penalized with five-day non-academic suspensions, meaning that they would not be able to participate in music, sports or other extra-curricular activities.

Any further citations are punishable by a five-day academic suspension.

Northfield Mayor Lee Lansing said that many of the housing issues stem from the fact that there are different cultures in Northfield.

"One of the biggest gaps is between college students and older neighborhoods," he said, mentioning that students and other neighbors have different goals.

Lansing also said that the whole scheme of off-campus housing has changed. Where students used to live mostly in apartments or in rented rooms, "we have more rental buildings, more and more integrated in neighborhoods."

This results in a need for the gap between students and older neighborhoods to be bridged more frequently.

Unfortunately, students and other residents had their share of problems this academic year.

Complaints from neighbors were filed with the police, citing such concerns as loud noise and music, parking issues and students driving too fast in areas with lots of children and pedestrians.

Lansing, the police and the Off-Campus Housing Senator Derek Attema '06 met to try to address these issues in a way fair to all involved.

What came of the meeting, according to Lansing, was the decision that "the expectations of the students' behavior had to be better identified and enforced," a responsibility that lands in the lap of the police department.

Students were expected to participate in the resolution as well.

"It was decided that the students had to better fit in," Lansing said.

He added that most of the time, this meant simply following the laws and keeping the noise down.

Despite this seemingly amiable resolution to the issue, Lansing said that the problem remains.

Since the neighbors are still complaining, he has concluded that "the rules are either insufficient or not enforced."

At this point, he said the solution is to work toward ensuring "fair rules and enforcement."

Despite the focus on St. Olaf students, Lansing went on to add that the actions taken are not personal.

"St. Olaf is a great, responsible and integral part of our community," he said of the college.

Lansing also said that students are not being unfairly targeted, and the problem is beyond college housing.

"This isn'’t a vendetta, this is a city-wide issue. It'’s an ordinance issue," he added.

"Had the student housing been smoother, it would not have gotten the attention it has," he said, referring to the ire and hard feelings in the community stemming from the problems.





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