Tight Economy Strains Town-Gown Relations

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2009 10:52 AM CDT
Students walk through the Harvard Law School quad in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The poor economy has put a crimp in some universities' expansion plans and soured the relationship between others and the surrounding communities, the New York Times reports. For instance, Harvard’s planned $1 billion expansion into a Boston neighborhood is in limbo, leaving a 5-acre construction pit and vacant buildings. “We feel like we’ve been betrayed and taken advantage of,” a resident said.

“Instead of Harvard bringing in jobs and excitement and vibrancy, we are sliding backwards.” Elsewhere, cash-strapped cities are looking to colleges and even students for a cash infusion. Providence has even proposed charging students a $150-per-semester “municipal impact fee” to close a budget gap. The academics aren’t having it. “We provide a huge amount to the local economy throughout the year and to neglect that is not right,” one said.