Editorial: University cannot continue ignoring City of Newark
The university has been expanding for years now, and the City of Newark is running out of space.
Over the course of the past several university presidencies, academic buildings, residence halls, the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus and all of the apartment complexes and businesses that support the university have been built with little regard for the city’s resources and limits. President Dennis Assanis has indicated this quick rate of development will continue if it doesn’t increase.
The City of Newark and its six council members have not been thrilled by the university slowly taking over the land of the city. Residents complain about the noise, the crime and the traffic congestion that comes with an expanding university. They want a voice in what happens in their community, and it so happens that the university is the heart and soul of their community.
Unfortunately the university listens to residents of Newark about as much as they listen to their own students. They have had issues of inadequate communication for years — most recently seen with the multicultural center debacle and the failure of the administration to inform the student body of an antisemitic poster that appeared on campus.
A quaint college town like Newark with a hotbed of activity like Main Street running through its center would normally be a prime recruiting tool. Yet, when the university seeks to attract a qualified member of faculty or to reach out to future students, Newark rarely seems to come up in their stump speeches.
When a prospective student or a faculty applicant opens a brochure for the university, they do not read about how wonderful Newark is and the abundance of opportunities that can be offered here. They instead read about how close of a drive or train ride the campus is from other major cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York.
In fact, many faculty that teach or conduct research on campus do not even live in the communities they teach. They live in New Jersey, the suburbs of Philadelphia or even in Maryland. For them, the city of Newark simply is not an attractive place to live and they choose to suffer an hour-long commute to work instead.
Nor does the university intervene when its students are affected by local businesses in the community, such as the housing debacle earlier this year that resulted in over a hundred students living in hotels for a month of the fall semester. This might contribute to a growing trend of students fleeing, rather than contributing to, the city of Newark upon graduating.
In an ideal world, the relationship between a public university and the community it is located in will be a symbiotic world. The university administration has other ideas. Time and time again, the administration leverages the power it holds over the community. After all, university students bring significant economic power to local businesses. But that should not mean the university dictates terms to the city and its residents whenever it chooses to do so.
The crux of the matter is the university does not do enough to cooperate with the city. Newark City Council meetings are filled with critiques of how the university never takes outside voices into account and the city simply cannot do anything on its own; it is powerless. A restart to this relationship has to be initiated by the university.
In order for the university to succeed, the community of Newark must also succeed. We are striving for common goals, so let us work together to achieve them instead of working at cross purposes.
Editorials are developed by The Review’s Editorial Board, led this week by Investigative Editor Jacob Orledge. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.