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Mont Alto students meet with local officials

March 23, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

MONT ALTO, Pa. -- Penn State Mont Alto's student government welcomed town Mayor John Esser to campus Monday evening in a continued effort to build better relations between students and residents.

That relationship was perhaps most strained following an October 2007 off-campus party that got out of control. A middle-of-the-night fight broke out between students and nonstudents in the streets.

Since then, campus officials have met with the Borough of Mont Alto, attended a town hall meeting and arranged for students to play at the borough's annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

"We have been working on ways to foster better communication. We're basically in the same neighborhood," Esser said.

He asked a dozen students for feedback and suggested ways they could cooperate for events.

Students and staff told him about several campus events that are open to the public, like the April 4 Easter egg hunt starting at 1 p.m. at Weistling Hall.

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"The community is welcome to that. It's put on for the community," said Kim Hoover, interim associate director of student affairs.

"I know in my city, when we want to bring people together, we have a big-old block party," said Jeremy Jones, a student from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Esser mentioned the off-campus APEX apartments being developed for an August grand opening. He talked about how residents are worried about noise and damage to their properties.

"The folks are just scared in the town," he said.

Director of Student Affairs Andrea Christopher explained that even when school officials cannot enforce off-campus behavior, they can bring the students in for "an educational conversation."

"We've co-existed for more than 100 years -- the campus and the community," she said.

Esser concluded the meeting by praising the student leaders.

"You all are very good neighbors. I respect you all," he said.

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