WMU News

President Bailey emphasizes "good neighbor" policy

Aug. 24, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- In a letter published today in the Kalamazoo Gazette, Dr. Judith I. Bailey, president of Western Michigan University, addressed a variety of concerns in the community and especially in the neighborhoods surrounding the main campus. The president outlined a variety of actions taken by the University to help ensure that WMU and its students are seen as "good neighbors" in Kalamazoo. The complete text of Bailey's letter follows.

To Our Friends and Neighbors:

As the new president of Western Michigan University, I would like to introduce myself to you and let you know that one of my top priorities is ensuring that we continue to be good neighbors and our lines of communication are always open.

In the coming days, thousands of our students will be returning to the community for the start of the 2003-04 academic year. They bring with them boundless energy and enthusiasm. These qualities make Kalamazoo the vibrant college community that it is.

While we welcome their return and look forward to the numerous contributions they make to the community, we also realize our enrollment growth can, at times, create issues for you. I would like to address two concerns that impact every university's relations with its home community. Those, of course, are traffic congestion around the campus and student conduct in the community.

Last year, the University responded to community concerns about the Arboretum student apartment project on the west side by funding a traffic study to help the city take appropriate action to curb growing traffic congestion around the campus. This study led to the installation of a new traffic signal at West Michigan and Emajean, which was funded by WMU and has had a positive impact on the problem.

This fall, we are working to reduce traffic associated with our College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which is relocating to the new Parkview Campus located near the Parkview Hills and Parkwyn neighborhoods. Our plan includes encouraging students to park their cars on the main campus and travel to the Parkview Campus on the Metro Transit bus system, which has been expanded to offer frequent and convenient shuttle service to the new campus. We believe this plan can minimize traffic congestion. As the semester begins, we will monitor and adjust bus schedules to determine the most advantageous schedule.

Because of the increasing number of students living in our neighborhoods, we have a number of initiatives designed to help them understand how they can be good neighbors. In addition, I recently sent a letter home to the families of new and returning students reminding them that both our student code and Michigan law hold students accountable for their conduct, especially when that conduct involves alcohol-related incidents.

Finally, you should be aware that Bob Miller, our associate vice president for community outreach, meets regularly with neighborhood associations, community groups and city officials to address issues of concern and to find new ways to enhance our relations with you and your neighbors. If you have an issue to bring to our attention, please contact Bob at 269 387-2073.

Working together, we can ensure that all of Kalamazoo enjoys the benefits and atmosphere that can only be enjoyed in a college town.

Dr. Judith I. Bailey


Some of WMU's efforts to be proactive
and help address community concerns

Funded expanded Metro Transit bus routes on and off campus to reduce student traffic.

Established Off-Campus Student Housing Task Force that includes city, neighborhood and campus officials as well as students. That board meets regularly to address issues, devise solutions and ensure an ongoing dialogue.

Publicized a set of guidelines and consequences specifically for students who choose to live in the community rather than on campus. These guidelines have been published in the student newspaper and published on the University Web site.

Conducted traffic study and funded new traffic signal west of campus.

Instituted student tailgating restrictions during football weekends and directed our campus police to be visible in areas that in the past have attracted underage drinking.

Collaborated with local tavern owners to form the Responsible Hospitality Forum through which University, students and tavern owners work together to combat underage drinking and alcohol abuse.

Communicated the University's expectations regarding good citizenship and community involvement during student and parent orientation sessions over the summer.

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 269 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

WMU News
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