City council discusses unity with students

Kali Price

Traditional college stereotypes are a thing of the past.

“The Animal House mentality of 10 years ago is gone,” Councilman Ed Bargerstock said at Coffee with Council last night.

Undergraduate Student Senate sponsored the first forum for students with Kent City Council members at Eastway.

“I think it went well,” said Justin Jeffery, USS senator for community affairs. “I think the students that did come got a lot out of it … There was a wide range of topics.”

Bargerstock and council members talked about fraternity relations with the city, as well as downtown Kent development and linking the Kent State campus with downtown.

About 25 students came to ask questions and raise concerns. Council members present included Bargerstock, Garret Ferrara, Wayne Wilson, Beth Oswitch and John Kuhar. Council-at-Large member William Schultz was also present, as well as Kent Police Chief James Peach, Mayor John Fender and City Manager Dave Ruller.

Most of the questions students asked focused on problems with downtown Kent and developing the area.

Bargerstock said in the 1960s and 1970s downtown Kent “was so crowded you couldn’t walk down the streets.”

Kuhar suggested Kent State graduates stay in the area to help develop retail businesses downtown.

“For so long, it’s been ‘there’s Kent’ and ‘there’s Kent State,'” Oswitch said.

Ruller added that part of his job is helping to plan changes to the downtown area.

“We have a very nice downtown — that I think all of us would agree — that’s not everything we want it to be yet,” he said.

“I think I would be remiss if I didn’t put out a shoutout to (Kent State President) Dr. (Lester) Lefton because he has been a terrific advocate of working closely with the city,” Ruller said. “Everywhere I’ve heard him speak, he continually pounds the fact that a healthy city means for a healthy university and a healthy university means for a healthy city. The two are inseparable.”

Preston Mitchum, USS senator for academic affairs, raised concerns about race relations and the Kent Police Department.

“We have a multicultural, diverse community,” Peach said in response.

Jeffery said because of how well the event went, USS will sponsor another Coffee with Council next semester.

USS Executive Director Ross Miltner said the senate did a similar event last year and was pleased with how it went.

Contact student politics reporter Kali Price at [email protected].