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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

“Rushed off their feet:” Northfield residents’ opinions about Carls

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Approximately 32% of Northfield’s population is between the ages of 18-24, many of whom are students at Carleton College or St. Olaf College. Carleton’s campus is less than half a mile from the center of town, and many college-owned houses neighbor Northfield residents’ homes.

We at the Carletonian were curious to know townies’ opinions of the local college environment and how they viewed the relationship between Carleton students and Northfield.

Are townies satisfied with the level of student engagement in the community? Are Carls respectful towards Northfield residents? Do the neighbors of Porch House get any sleep on Wednesday nights? These were some of the questions we sought to answer through interviews with anyone in town who was willing to share their thoughts.

John the Pharmacy Technician at Econofoods was frank with us in expressing his views of Carleton students when it comes to dealing with “real world” situations.

“My experience is that a lot of them don’t have understanding of how insurance works or how the real world works,” he said, noting that students often have to call their parents when dealing with insurance matters.

“It’s interesting…I don’t know if they’ve been sheltered all their lives or what their situation is,” he added.

Others, however, applauded Carleton’s engagement with the “real world” through community-oriented projects.

One Econofoods shopper, who wished to remain anonymous, worked on the board of Project Friendship for several years. “The students we’ve had on that program have just been spectacular. I think they really do want to help the young people who are in the programs,” she said.

Tom and Megan Durkin, Northfield residents and Carleton parents, have lived around a block away from campus for 17 years and have also been pleased with the town’s student culture.

“All of Northfield appreciates the many service projects and volunteering the students provide. I have been fortunate to have several work for my own small business,” Durkin said. “We find the students to be interesting, caring, open hearted and vibrant. Full disclosure—two of our children are Carls—but we would still have the same opinion.”

These views are not shared by everyone in town, however. Some find that the Carleton community seems to be perpetually busy, putting them out of sync with the pace of small-town life.

One professor, who wished to remain anonymous, noted, “In my interactions with non-Carleton people I have had people comment on how Carleton students and professors always seem rushed off their feet and seem to have an unforgiving and stressful schedule.”

Residents at Three Links Assisted Living, a retirement home a mile from Carleton’s campus, shared their opinions of Carleton with us.

“Have you been to Hogan Brothers? Have you been there on a Friday night?” asked resident Della Lundquist, age 103. “They certainly have all the young peo- ple…But you know, nobody stands there and loiters. They eat, get up, and go… They don’t stay there for an hour or two – they say we ‘gotta move!’”

Resident Norma Jean Amaris was curious to know if Carleton students have much free time.

“I mean I’m just amazed that this is a college town and I really don’t see that many students,”

Amaris said. “I feel like the colleges must be very adequate when it comes to meeting the students’ needs because I don’t see many of them out and about.”

Amaris, who would occasionally encounter students in her work at the YMCA, stressed the importance of building one-on-one relationships between students and community members.

“I think it’s possible maybe to have some kind of ways to make connections one on one if it’s doing internships or gardening projects around here…And I think it’s really important for young people to make connections with older people…I think it does us both a lot of good.”

In terms of student rowdiness and noise levels, most residents have had generally positive experiences aside from a few minor incidents.

Loretta Sharpe lives with her husband next door to Wellstone House of Activism.

“Actually, we get along really fine with the students,” Sharpe said. She added that their only problem in the past 24 years was many years ago, when students repetitively took the top off of the couple’s lamppost.

“After the second or third time replacing it we said, ‘forget the lamppost.’ That’s the only thing that happened, really.”

Jim and Pat Stenglein who live near CANOE House also expressed general contentment with the neighboring college, aside from the occasional sound of fireworks coming from the Arb late into the night.

The majority of Northfield residents that we interviewed, however, declined to comment on the grounds that they simply had no opinion at all about Carleton students, or at least not as much to say as we had hoped.

Even neighbors of Porch House, known infamously as an off-campus party central, had few complaints about Carleton students.

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