By GENEVIEVE KURTZ and VALERIE CASE
Althought the distance from the center of Salisbury University’s campus to the center of downtown Salisbury is 1.4 miles, like a lot of college towns, students tend to stay on campus, rather than get involved with their surrounding community.
With plans in place to revamp Downtown Salisbury and the areas around, City Council President and future Mayor Jake Day is eager to take on the challenges of bridging the inherent town-gown relationship and connecting students to the downtown area.
Ideas for new businesses and events as well as dreams of building a gifted arts school in the center of town are part of Day’s vision to create,what he calls “a thriving heart and soul” for the city of Salisbury – a community venue that belongs to everyone.
Though there are endless opportunities and events that go on within the Salisbury community, it is a challenge to distribute this information to the students and get them involved.
Recreationally, Downtown Salisbury offers monthly events like Third Friday–which attracts thousands of people every month–and First Saturday as a way to provide the community with an opportunity to explore the arts and music scene within the city.
Downtown is also the home of Headquarters Live and The Brick Room, both of which offer concerts and other live entertainment.
Likewise the area has bakeries, bars and coffee shops, as well as the Shore Fresh Growers Farmers Market on East Market Street, open on Saturdays.
For students seeking out volunteer work, internships and other work experience, the city offers opportunities to work with the Salisbury Zoo, AmeriCorps, the YMCA, and non-profits like Village of Hope, which provides temporary housing for struggling women and children.
With many options available to students, civic leader Marty Neat says that “there’s something to be said for doing what you like.”
With so much going on within the community, the necessity to build those town-gown relations is more prevalent than ever for many city officials.
Former Salisbury City Council President Mike Dunn says SU students must be striving to make a difference.
“(They need) the willingness and courage to say ‘I want to get involved,’” Dunn said.
In order to bridge this gap, a ‘think tank’ of SU students that would have direct contact with the mayor and City Hall is in the works as a way to represent the campus and integrate students into the community.
“The best thing students can do is show the community they have value,” Dunn said. “The community has to be ready to welcome that value.”