Staff editorial: Be a good neighbor
The City Council of University City is planning to create a task force to evaluate Washington University’s impact on the U. City community. The goal of the project will be to complete a study of the fiscal relationship between the city and the University, and then to use those findings to create a task force that will negotiate solutions that are mutually beneficial to both parties.
Because Wash. U. is a non-profit organization, it does not pay property taxes in U. City, despite the large number of holdings that fall within the city limits. This policy puts a burden on the city and means that U. City residents not affiliated with Wash. U. pay higher taxes for services that the University benefits from, such as sidewalk and road repairs.
As this project begins and creates a dialogue in the future to ease the financial stress on University City, the Editorial Board at Student Life calls for Wash. U. to remember the importance of the last three words of its name and think about the University’s role in St. Louis. Due to the University’s place in the greater St. Louis community, it’s important to be receptive to how our presence affects these areas and remain committed to working with surrounding cities to create and maintain a relationship that equally distributes the accompanying financial burden across both communities. Wash. U. has used its financial resources to support projects in the community in the past, such as the Delmar Loop Trolley, which opened just last weekend. If the University can support novel projects such as these that only slightly affect the daily lives of its students, it can support the livelihood of neighboring communities that feel the University negatively impacts their financial livelihoods. Further, Wash. U. should feel obligated to work with the task force on this issue because many upperclassmen live off campus in apartments in U. City.
As Wash. U. students, we are also members of the greater St. Louis community. Even students living on campus frequently leave the “Wash. U. bubble” for the Delmar Loop, which is only a few minutes away on foot. Students are frequently encouraged to explore and be involved in different areas of this city that they will call home for the next four years. As Wash. U. strives to be a better neighbor to University City and other St. Louis county areas, individual students can do the same by being respectful to off-campus neighborhoods, which are home to people who will still be living here after we graduate. Even small details, like parking in front of people’s houses instead of on campus and being loud outside at night, can have a big effect on the people living near campus who share their neighborhood with thousands of college students.
Both students and administration should be cognizant of our impacts on neighboring communities and strive to collaborate with these communities respectfully in order to make the University’s relationship as mutually beneficial and harmonious as possible.
Read more about the new task force: University City to form task force addressing relationship with WU