Chapman expands, some Orange residents low on patience


Chapman plans to increase university enrollment to 10,500 within the next decade. Photo by Bonnie Cash

From vomit on their lawns to music bumping through the walls, Orange residents have had their share of issues with Chapman students. Some residents, like Robert Maxstadt, who has lived in Orange his entire life, believe poor communication between the two communities is the root of the problem. But neither side is willing to take the blame, he said.

“It’s a shared responsibility,” Maxstadt said. “The city should not allow single-family homes to become guest houses with four or five additional tenants that it was not made to handle.”

He believes that both sides have the greater good in mind, but that some get overcome by the small issues and allow the negatives to overshadow all the other positives Chapman brings.

“Chapman has had to have their feet held to the fire to (remember) that they are within the community of Orange. They are not their own thing,” said Lisa Baldwin, an Orange resident of 41 years.

Chapman only puts on a good face for its public image, Baldwin said. She believes the fear of consequences drives the university to adhere to the city’s requests. But President Daniele Struppa thinks the opposite.

“It will never be a perfect situation,” Struppa said. “I am fully convinced that the presence of Chapman in Orange is a definite asset for the city, and I am a bit disappointed in the lack of recognition of this fact.”

A main frustration is the physical space the university takes up in what residents argue was originally meant to be a small town. To keep up with its expanding popularity, Chapman is now building the Keck Center for Science and Engineering and the Villa Park Orchard Residence Hall.

“It has made Old Towne unaffordable for locals,” said Baldwin’s husband, Dan. “Chapman has got the money to (expand) and pay cash outright, but we can’t afford it. You don’t want to be living next to a party house either.”

Enrollment is capped at 8,700 students, but Jack Raubolt, vice president of community relations, said that the university plans to expand to 10,500 within the next decade. Residents, like the Baldwins, feel the community is already tight on space and low on patience.

“(Students) only believe what they’ve been told, which is, ‘Oh come on, Chapman has been here for like 150 years already!’ Well, no, they haven’t. They’ve been here since the 1950s and they started as a Christian school. We remember when they were a struggling university. It was a much smaller campus,” said Lisa Baldwin.

Although Chapman aims to house 50 percent of its student population, Lisa Baldwin believes the additional bodies in town continue to create foot and street traffic that is potentially dangerous for older residents.

“Typically, they are in a hurry to get wherever they want. They just jet on down the street and they drive very quickly. They don’t even look to make eye contact with you (to say) like, ‘OK, I’m gonna stop, you’re a pedestrian,’” said Baldwin.

Baldwin described Orange as a “once peaceful” town until Chapman’s campus migrated from Woodland, California, to its current location in 1954. Maxstadt agrees that many locals did not move here knowing they would have to adapt to a loud and crowded college environment. But he believes the two worlds can coexist if students are more respectful and residents learn to cope with change.

Maxstadt believes a small percentage of “headache” students ruin the relationship with the community for everyone else. These students throw parties that trash the neighborhood, take up all the street parking and rush from one place to the next without getting to know their neighbors or any history within the town, Lisa Baldwin said.

“The city was not built or created for a large school,” Maxstadt said. “We have a lot of older homes in the neighborhood. We don’t have the great parking. But if everybody adheres to the rules, parks where they’re supposed to, keeps the parties down, we can all get along.”

Struppa finds the communication between the city and the university frustrating because issues are not as prevalent as they have been in the past, he said.

ophomore public relations and advertising major Marshall Scott wish residents would consider the larger portion of Chapman – students who actively and positively participate in the community – instead of those who ruin it for the others.

“Students are the backbone of the economy in Old Towne Orange,” Scott said. “Without us, many restaurants and merchants would be out of business. This being said, the city needs to adjust to its community….and more (members of) Generation Z are coming,” Scott said.

It is not students versus the community, but rather that students are the community, or at least a large and active portion of it, Maxstadt said. Maxstadt agrees that the university contributes to many aspects of the city – financially and socially – that the community may otherwise miss out on.