Be good students and good neighbors

By choosing to rent in the neighborhood, we take on a responsibility to the people of that neighborhood.

For many young adults, the first experience of renting an apartment happens when they attend college. My first three years of undergrad were spent in the residence halls. Last fall, I transferred to the University and decided I wanted to live off campus. I was both excited and nervous about living on my own. Early on, I realized that finding an apartment was not going to be an easy task – and if I found an apartment, was it in a safe neighborhood? What questions should I be asking? I had no idea about my rights. In the end, I lucked out and found a great building; however, I was still left with questions.

This past December, I took over as the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood student liaison. My primary objective is to create a good working relationship among the renters and homeowners in the neighborhood. Marcy-Holmes is approximately 85 percent rental properties. Eighty-five percent of the neighborhood consists of people cycling in and out, many of whom never take steps to get involved in the neighborhood.

The University was built in this area on the idea that the Marcy-Holmes community would welcome and help develop the minds and spirits of students. For most students, including myself, it doesn’t cross wtheir mind that they are moving into a neighborhood. This is an established community where people raise families and grow old. In making the choice to live off campus and rent in the neighborhood, we take on a responsibility to the people of that neighborhood (and ourselves) to be respectful.

I’ve learned more about the neighborhood in the past two months than I would have ever cared to learn. I was naÏve to think the “big city” would be as harmless and as low-key as my hometown of Duluth. Through my job I have become more engaged in neighborhood affairs. I hear about violent acts made against people and property, as well as landlords who prey on students’ vulnerability and inexperience. It’s upsetting that at this time in our lives, when we should be free to discover and engage in our passions, there are people ready to take advantage of us in such awful ways.

There are legal services on campus (University Student Legal Services), which provide help to students dealing with legal problems. If the building you are living in is unsafe, if you are a victim of crime or for any other matter, contact legal services, contact the neighborhood association or contact the police. There are people within the community ready to help and give you the support you deserve. Taking care of yourself is also a part of your responsibilities.

We’re still young and still learning. Renting an apartment is part of this process; learning to take care of “me” and take on responsibility. Part of my job is to ensure that as students and as renters, you have a good experience while living in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. The other part is to ensure the home owners also have good experiences with you.

Originally, I moved into Minneapolis to go to school. Now, I realize that I came to Marcy-Holmes to live, explore and go to school. We might simply be “passing through” and, yet, for the years which we do live here, we are invited into a neighborhood that has a good possibility of feeling like home.

If you would like to become more involved in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood or if you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]

Sydne Westorff is the Marcy-Holmes student liaison. Please send comments to [email protected]