The purpose of this thesis is to analyze and comment on the relationships that exist between Providence College students and the local Smith Hill‐Elmhurst community. In conducting my research I concentrated mainly on the nuanced perceptions that the students and the local residents have of each other. My main interest was to see how the students defined themselves in relation to the outside community, and in discovering how much their relationship is based upon these perceptions. At the same time, I also aimed to find out what the locals’ opinions were on the place of the students; namely, if they believed Providence College students were truly part of the “community”, or whether they formed a separate entity within the geographic confines of the Smith Hill‐Elmhurst neighborhood. I believe it is important to better understand town‐gown relationships, not only in the case of Providence College but in the case of all institutions of higher education. Being two populations that live side by side and interact with each other, any sort of disconnect between the students and the locals can be detrimental to the community as a whole. Town‐gown tensions have existed since the development of the university in medieval Europe, and in many cases have had negative – and even violent – effects on both parties. It is therefore crucial to understand the dynamics of these relationships in order to create an atmosphere of peace and cooperation in university communities. I interviewed on‐campus and off‐campus students, as well local residents. My findings show that most students in fact do not consider themselves part of the “community”, but rather as an isolated group within the society. The opinions of the local residents on the students’ place is split between viewing them as an important, vibrant part of the community and a noisy sub‐population that is tolerated but kept separated from the local society.


Providence College


Spring 5-6-2011










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