The Thread between SUNY and the Village: a New Paltz Observation

Since I am less informed about the Village of New Paltz than my (soon to be) alma mater (which I did not know either; I doubt people know their alma mater until they graduate), I observed the New Paltz Wikipedia page in its similarities to the campus. Since New Paltz is a college town, formed by not just its history but the vigorous youth attracting business to shops and art and culture, I yearned to find connections between the two pages, especially since I know there are plenty of people who stay in the area after school, or students who make up a huge portion of the off-campus population.

Looking at the demographics sections on each page, there is a notable correlation between school and village racial populations (roughly 80% to 73% for White; 5% to 8% African American; 11% to 11% for Hispanic or Latino; 3% to 7% for Asian/Pacific Islander). While one could argue that New York State populations do not change dramatically, unless one lives in a highly urban or rural area, the similarities are striking when most of the SUNY New Paltz students hail from lower New York areas, such as the five boroughs, Long Island, and the lower Hudson Valley. From my perspective, I view SUNY New Paltz as racially diverse; my roommate, who attended a performance high school in the city, was initially shocked by the amount of white students on campus. Statistics could offer a fairly pale-skinned melting pot, but racial diversity remains a slightly biased subject, as a northern Westchester student will be exposed to different cultures than a city-dweller. Statistics strip cultural expression.

The demographics section (on the Village page) also reveals the heavy effects of college students living off campus, as I implied earlier. “The per capita income for the village was $11,644. About 11.8% of families and 36.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.6% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over. While this is one of the lowest median household incomes in the area, it includes large number of college students who attend SUNY New Paltz, many of whom have incomes that would place them below the poverty line.”

To which I say “obviously.” Nothing screams college town more than an incredibly low per capita income and 58.7% of a population consisting of 18-to-24-year-olds. Most students can hardly afford tuition, let alone pay for their monthly rent, let alone live on their own. Students drastically affect the village environment, perhaps largely on this economic level. There was no information on tax rates in the village (which is troubling on another level, since plenty of locals complain about high tax rates in the area), but one would assume lower cost-of-living to balance out low incomes. The other way likely exists since less of the population can provide taxes, many exempt as students and receiving wages well below the poverty line, and yet the village and town must keep up maintenance not just for its townspeople, but for the prospective students of SUNY New Paltz. The village apparently thrives on the large student population, as it makes such a large majority of residents, and the town must always keep up with the unstable population. None of that exists on either Wikipedia page. Most of the speculation depends on a single bit of information I mentioned earlier was not provided. Yet did that not explain the very complex dynamic of a college town?

Another missing piece: the Farmer's Market, held every Thursday in warm weather. Not only a strong connection between campus and village, but a hint to the environmentally-friendly atmosphere on - and off-campus.

Another missing piece: the Farmer’s Market, held every Thursday in warm weather on the Academic Concourse. The event not only reveals a strong connection between campus and village, but hints at the environmentally-friendly atmosphere on – and off-campus.

While the village Wikipedia page includes several notations of its dependence on the student population, it hardly goes far enough. Similarly, the SUNY New Paltz page hardly interacts with the village environment, making no mention of the effect its students and activities have on the community. Since the college is such an asset to the village, albeit sometimes a burden, at least give credit to the town offering such academic hospitality. Then again, these are Wikipedia pages, not official reports. Still, it is incredibly apparent the two environments intertwine, and should offer such on the SUNY New Paltz page. SUNY Binghamton discusses transportation options on their Wikipedia page; why not discuss taxi services, escort services, and the Loop on the SUNY New Paltz page?

Photo0232There are other small points of mention on the SUNY New Paltz page in particular. First, the “Campus theaters” subsection does not include the newly-renovated Julian J. Studley Theatre, connected to Old Main building. The page includes the completion of Old Main in the section above entitled “Campus,” but perhaps the authors could not detail the theater, which hosts on-campus theater performances (such as Into the Woods by Miami Theater Players in Spring 2012), choirs, lectures, and even the President’s Inauguration in Spring 2012. Second, “Clubs and traditions” includes Student Association and Residence Hall Student Association, but not the United Greek Association, which is the presiding body over the Greek life, even if it does mention fraternities and sororities. Third, not once did any part of the page mention the awesome outdoors environment during the beginning and end of the academic year. Such little facts about students lying down outside on nice days, playing instruments, or throwing a frisbee–it’s a whole new environment when the snow melts and the skies clear–would add a distinct personal touch to the page and resonate the name with the school many students adore.

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1 thought on “The Thread between SUNY and the Village: a New Paltz Observation

  1. Wow you did a really good job on this post! I feel like I learned more from this post than the wiki page haha. It was really interesting how you brought up all the statistics and you mentioned the dependence that the town has on the New Paltz University! And I love your pictures, especially the one with the farmers market (omg so good!).

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