By Chancellor Daniele Struppa and Mayor of Orange Tita Smith
In recent months there has been much conversation about the Neighborhood Advisory Committee’s purpose and its relationship with Chapman University. We would like to clarify both.
The committee was an outgrowth of discussions between community members and President Jim Doti. It was formed in a spirit of cooperation, but with the full understanding that there are diverse and valuable opinions about key neighbor issues that need to be heard. Membership includes representatives from several organizations, ranging from the Old Towne Preservation Association to the Orange Barrio Historical Society, as well as business members, residents and City of Orange Mayor Teresa Smith.
This broad-based membership has fostered robust discussions, a free flow of information, ideas and recommendations. The committee is chaired jointly by Chancellor Daniele Struppa, and Harold Hewitt, executive vice president and COO. A complete membership list can be found at neighborsofchapman.com.
In its first meeting, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee issued this joint statement: “Our discussions will focus on improving the overall relationship with the university and the surrounding community. We will identify key issues that need to be addressed. Future meetings will be held to work on converting these issues into win-win solutions. The group appreciates the commitment to collaboration demonstrated by all the participants.”
Since the committee started meeting in November 2015, five topics were prioritized: student housing (with a focus on creating more campus-based housing), enhanced campus parking to abate parking spillover in neighborhoods, strategies for responding to party house disturbances, and preventing further development of party houses in residential neighborhoods, Chapman’s proposed campus plans and related issues, and the appointment of a primary lead university person for community interaction to help the public communicate with Chapman.
Each topic is being thoroughly discussed, often with additional input from the city and university officials invited to address the committee. Some results from the discussions include our created and hired vice president of community relations. This position is held by Jack Raubolt.
The follow-up community liaison visits for a reported party by the Orange Police Department and Chapman Public Safety have been reinstated.
The Orange City Council is strengthening ordinances dealing with disruptive behavior, landlord responsibilities and code enforcement.
Students are being sanctioned to good neighbor classes and assessed fines for disruptive behavior. A website was launched for the community to follow committee activities, get the latest news from the university, and submit comment and questions to the committee. A monthly Neighbor to Neighbor newsletter is produced and sent to 8,000 residences in the neighborhoods around Chapman. The newsletter is also posted on the website.
Some students, as well as some faculty, have expressed concerns that some of the ideas discussed in the meetings could lead to actions that might limit the freedom of students. We hope students and the community will realize that there is no intention on the part of the city or the university to restrict the freedom of students to enjoy their college years; but it is equally important that we all remember that personal freedom does not give us permission to infringe on other people’s freedom.
This is why the work of the committee is delicate: we all want to balance the enthusiastic atmosphere of our university, with the right of Orange residents to sleep, and the preservation of their property. Yes, much work remains. But we are encouraged by the progress we’re making. Of course, we don’t always agree on a single best plan as we tackle issues related to student housing, parking, campus planning and residents’ concerns. But we are united in our devotion to Orange, the unique place we all call home. And we know many of you reading this are too. We welcome all our neighbors’ comments and suggestions.