Keith Belk, an associate professor of animal sciences, feels comfortable raising his three children in Fort Collins, but he believes there are some natural boundaries that must exist between CSU students and community members.
“I wouldn’t want my three kids living next to a frat house,” said Belk, the father of three children aged 6, 9 and 11 years old. “There are natural barriers that are not perfect, but help to segregate what goes on on any university campus from the rest of society.”
Belk defines natural barriers as primarily residential, whereas many students reside in different neighborhoods than most families.
While Belk believes the CSU campus brings numerous advantages to the Fort Collins community, he also said that he has noticed a decline in students’ civic responsibility since he was a student at CSU, 25 years ago.
“I don’t think anybody denies that part of the learning experience at college is the social life, but I think that young people are going to extremes,” Belk said. “The natural barriers didn’t have to be so rigid 10 or 15 years ago.”
Elisa McLain, a sophomore English literature major, agreed that students can often go too far in their social activities.
“If I was a parent in Fort Collins I would want to live in a neighborhood that was not near campus,” McLain said. “Students tend to get crazy.”
Freshman Cheryl Hartshorn said Belk’s idea about natural barriers solves problems with compatibility between student lifestyles and Fort Collins families.
“With all the partying, parents probably don’t want to raise families around campus,” said Hartshorn, a biology major.
As a Fort Collins resident, Robin Daniels learned about the need for natural barriers through her own experience.
Daniels used to live in an apartment off of Drake Road and Shields Street. Soon after moving in, her neighbor’s excessive partying quieter neighborhood.
Despite her experiences, she understands that partying is a part of college and believes the most drastic impact CSU has on the Fort Collins community is related to traffic.
“During the wintertime getting out onto Drake was so difficult,” Daniels said. “As soon as Christmas break started, it was like ‘what happened to all the traffic?'”
Sgt. Jim Hoyne of Fort Collins Police Services agreed that the only real drawback influenced by CSU is traffic congestion.
“There is increased traffic when students are in town,” Hoyne said. “Also, as a police officer it increases the calls for service when students are in town, but that just makes the job more interesting.”
As a former CSU student, Fort Collins Mayor Ray Martinez agreed that Fort Collins has changed, noting that when he was in high school the Fort Collins population was about 25,000 people, but he believes that the CSU campus is a very important component of the Fort Collins community.
“Fort Collins is really built around the university and together we have built a strong foundation for growth,” Martinez said.
With 25,042 consumers, renters and potential employees Martinez said the CSU campus is a positive asset to the Fort Collins community, especially due to the tremendous economic growth it provides.
“The university employs 8,000 people and the students have huge economic impact on the city,” Martinez said. “I honestly don’t see any disadvantages.”
Alechia Brady, an employee of Eileen’s Colossal Cookies, said that while college students are not her sole cookie buyers, they do contribute greatly to the community’s economy.
“A lot of college kids buy a lot of stuff because some of them have their parents paying for education or even if they are paying for school, like me, they tend to buy things they don’t need,” said Brady, who is also a sophomore English major at CSU.
While some of the Fort Collins community has complaints about student behavior, Hoyne believes that the university primarily has a positive impact on the Fort Collins community.
“The campus brings diversity, and brings employees for local businesses,” Hoyne said. “My girls, who are 14 and 11 years old, are even coached by CSU students in their sports.”
Martinez agreed that utilizing college students can make a positive impact on children in the community.
“When younger students see students in college they tend to continue on in their education,” Martinez said. “It is very positive to have that influence around young children on a daily basis.”
While community members may view CSU’s impact on Fort Collins as either negative or positive, Belk simply states that it is neither one nor the other.
“I think that there are some things that are just a part of change,” Belk said. “And we all have to live with change.”