Halloween is a holiday treasured by people of all ages across the nation — and college students are no exception.
But for long-term citizens, sharing a college town with students on Halloween feels like more of a trick than a treat.
“Halloween can bring an increase in late night noise and disruption from large groups of students walking to and from campus or within the neighborhoods looking for parties,” says Alicia Taylor, off-campus services coordinator for the University of Vermont.
“Trash and vandalism are also concerns this time of year … Halloween seems to heighten and exacerbate these issues and cause additional stress and anxiety for local families as they brace for the worst.”
Taylor says that some students aren’t aware these problems, which hurt the community, exist.
“I wish that college students wouldn’t smash our pumpkins,” Isabel Vivanco, 9, of Burlington, Vt., says.”[When the college students aren't here] its not as loud and there aren’t as many broken bottles and things like that smashed on the ground.”
Isabel’s mother, Peggy O’Neill-Vivanco, says that because of the behavior of college students, the family doesn’t feel comfortable decorating for Halloween as they want to.
“Its not just drunken disorderly behavior, it’s that I am always afraid people will steal something — and they have,” O’Neill-Vivanco says.
O’Neill-Vivanco described a year when her family’s prized 75-pound pumpkin was stolen off of their porch.
“As for all of the smashed pumpkins, I just wonder ‘Really? Why? Who is going to clean that up?” she says. “The kids just don’t understand why someone would do that to someone else’s little creative artwork, which is how they see carved pumpkins.”
David B. Stephen, Director of University Housing and Food Services of California State University in Chico wrote a letter to residence hall students: “Halloween activities in Chico — like many college towns — are sometimes unsafe and can become dangerous. Fights and other acts of violence, often as a result of excessive alcohol use, have led to injuries to students, police officers, and community volunteers.”
Taylor says she hoped students take the time to celebrate Halloween in a way that does not negatively impact the community — like engaging in the Burlington Halloween Neighborhood Clean-up on the Sunday before Halloween.
“We will head out to pick up any trash and smashed pumpkins that may have resulted from partying on Friday and Saturday night,” Taylor says. “Our plan is to have the neighborhoods looking great for when all the kids go out trick or treating on Monday evening.”
The University of Vermont is one of many schools working to enhance town-gown relations, not only for Halloween.
- The University of Colorado at Boulder has an Off-Campus Housing and Neighborhood Relations Office with student resources including information on housing and registration for parties to help avoid noise violations.
- University of the Pacific hosts an annual Safe Trick or Treat, the University’s largest community outreach, where students faculty, staff and alumni distribute candy to local school children.
- The University of South Carolina’s Norman Topping Student Aid Fund organizes an annual Safe Halloween event to provide a celebration for children in the local community, according to their website.
“In general I think it is important for students to get to know their neighbors whether they live on or off campus,” Taylor says. “Thankfully most students are not causing issues off campus and are doing a great job.”
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