Unraveling the community impact report

Illustrated by Nate Mulroy

About nine months ago, the conflict between Chapman’s expansion plans and unhappy Orange citizens was reaching its climax.
The residents wanted to preserve their historic, quiet town and stop loud parties while Chapman wanted to grow as a university and students hoped to keep their social lives misdemeanor-free.

Students and residents alike were lining up at city council meetings to voice their opinions, and ultimately new noise ordinance amendments were passed in June to try to limit student partying. The amendments stated that any person who is contributing “to the loud or unruly gathering” can be issued a misdemeanor citation.

When students and the university were arguing over the value of Chapman students and its expansion, one point made over and over was the economic impact that the university has had on Orange’s economy. These arguments were made with anecdotes and general observations, but rarely with hard facts or numbers.

But, in January, a Community Impact Report entitled “Interwoven” was released by vice president of community relations Jack Raubolt with the goal to “show that the university is integrated into the community.”
The report boasts that Chapman contributes $1,705,227 annually in sales tax to the local government and that the total personal income for Orange County from Chapman is $202,481,785.

But, how meaningful are these numbers, really?

A contribution of more than $1.7 million seems like a lot, but within the context of the $43.9 million that the City of Orange received in sales tax in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Chapman accounts for 3.9 percent.

As for the total personal income, with the knowledge of the nearly $150 billion in personal income that Orange County reported in 2009, Chapman accounts for 0.13 percent of the total. By neglecting to include the circumstances surrounding the numbers featured in Raubolt’s report, it isn’t worth much to the community he is trying to reach.

Adam Duberstein, the founder of citizen group Respect Orange, said that the “overall consensus by a number of people was that the piece looked a little fluffy.”

We think he’s right.

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