FROSTBURG — College officials and city leaders are delivering a message to Frostburg State University students this school year — “you’re part of this community.”
“If you’re part of something,” said City Administrator John Kirby, “you’ll take care of it.”
Many young men and women enrolled at FSU may not realize that close to 5,000 of them will take up residency in the Mountain City beginning this fall, Kirby said.
“Most of the students don’t look at it as moving to Frostburg, they are going to school in Frostburg,” Kirby said. “We want to bridge that gap, and make this feel like home.”
Earlier this month, university officials hosted William Laramee, a community liaison officer from Amherst, Massachusetts.
Home to three universities, Amherst is dealing with many of the same student-related issues Frostburg faces, such as noise complaints, quality of life for locals and large crowds. Laramee shared tips with Frostburg officials on how his tactics in Amherst work to lesson some of the negative impact students can have.
“It’s a mission to improve quality of life, student behavior, giving them (students) the sense they are part of the community as opposed to being like ‘no one at Amherst likes us, we’re the students;’ it’s not like that anymore — because you know they (students) are an important and vital part of the community’s success,” said Laramee.
A new initiative focused on welcoming students to the community is Frostburg 101: A Taste of the City — a collaboration by university officials and FSU campus leaders that will introduce students to the downtown business district. On Sept. 10, restaurants and retail stores on Main Street will offer discounts, giveaways and prizes for students only as a way to invite them into the community.
Kirby said this event gives students a chance to starting caring about the town they inhabit nearly nine months out of the year.
“By getting them (students) out to the businesses,” said Kirby, “they’ll find out they like Frostburg.”
A variety of student organizations on campus are taking the same approach and working to influence student behavior by highlighting community involvement.
This fall, student group ‘BURG Peer Educators will launch ‘FrostBURG Cares, a campaign teaching students how to interact with the community at large through “random acts of kindness.”
“We are trying to tell our students that this is home away from home,” said Don Swogger, ‘BURG Peer Educators adviser. “Since this is your new home for the next nine months or so, we want you to own it.”
Swogger is training peer educators on how to help students serve the community, as well as offering tips on keeping a positive mind frame on campus and with neighbors.
“It’s teaching students the value of a smile, the value of opening the door, saying thank you ...,” said Swogger. “Leaders have an attitude of gratitude and they do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, so we have been talking a lot about mindset and gratitude, and the students have really bought into that.”
FrostBURG Cares will host a number of events on campus to foster positive community interaction, including a Care Fair and Carebaque over the duration of the school year.
“One step at a time, we will make a difference on our campus,” said Swogger.
The ‘BURG Peer Educators will also deliver bags to students living off campus listing ways to be good neighbors.
While community leaders and FSU officials foster neighborly sentiment, Frostburg City Police will increase patrols and add staff.
“Patrol is the best force you have,” said Frostburg Police Chief Royce Douty. “They (students) see a lot of patrol cars, they see a lot of police; sometimes we’re on foot patrol, they (students) are watching what they’re doing — they’re not doing crazy stuff.
“Most of these college kids don’t want to get in trouble, you have a few, but most of them don’t,” said Douty.
Follow staff writer Heather Wolford on Twitter @heatherbwolford.