On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the Union Park District Council hosted a panel of college students at our board meeting. There are three colleges and universities with students living in Union Park: Macalester College, University of St. Thomas, and Concordia University. We had two students from each school represented on the panel:
- Macalester College: Caroline Peters, Caitie Walter
- University of St. Thomas: Tyler Schmitt, Bobby Martin
- Concordia University: Kelly Pierce, Brian Szudkowski
The six students spoke to their experiences living in Union Park as well as their plans for after graduation. All of the students said that they have had a positive experience living in the neighborhood. They each have enjoyed different amenities around Union Park. Tyler talked about using the parks in the neighborhood. He uses Merriam Park often and knows many friends that practice sports there. Both Brian and Catie appreciate the many different restaurants there are to try around the neighborhood. Brian said that there is “always something different to try” and studying at Concordia, “everything is within an arm’s reach. Catie explained that it is easy to walk anywhere in the neighborhood and be able to stop and grab a bite.
All of the panelists would consider living in Union Park after graduation. For some students, like Kelly and Caroline, it would depend on graduate school. Brian said that he liked cities more than the small town he is from, and could see himself living here. Tyler would also consider living here, especially if most of his friends stay around. However, Caroline explained that there are not as many things to do here in Union Park for young people. When she wants to have fun or go out with friends, she tends to go to Minneapolis. This sentiment was shared by the other panelists. The panelists then concluded that Union Park would be a nice place to raise children and to retire when older.
Overall, the panelists enjoy living in Union Park. They appreciate the amenities in our neighborhood, but would like more young adult friendly spaces and places accessible by public transportation. The students would also like more opportunities to interact with their Union Park neighbors. They suggested having networking events with members of Union Park’s organization as well as more informal events such as block parties. Bobby said that an important part of including students is that neighbors recognize that student problems are also neighborhood problems. Students can often be seen as an issue by the neighborhood, but it is important that we understand they are also neighbors, for however long they are here.