Editorial: NUandYou is unfair to town

Good intentions aside, the Associated Student Government’s new website NUandYou.com does little to achieve its goal of improving town-gown relations. The site is meant to be a pithy remake of a similar site directed toward skeptics of the Obama administration, yet in execution NUandYou portrays a smug and passive-aggressive Northwestern student body.

NUandYou.com allows students to submit to the website statements describing ways in which they have helped the Evanston community. A large button at the bottom of the screen appears with a different comment beneath each statement voicing comments meant to imitate Evanston’s indifference toward students’ good faith actions. Underneath a statement from “Katie” reading “I give your children piano lessons,” a button might read “Big deal. What else?” or “You’re still noisy,” or even “I could do that in my sleep.” The site is obviously supposed to poke light-hearted fun at the tense town-gown relations, but the characterization of Evanston residents’ supposed “response” to students’ good deeds is patronizing. Often, NU students unfairly oversimplify Evanston residents’ concerns about noise. Just as NU students don’t all behave like those chronicled on Gawker, not all Evanston residents are “unimpressed” by students’ behavior.

Conceptually, NUandYou.com is valuable. Much of NU students’ work within the community is overlooked not only by the Evanston community but by the NU community as well. Rather than through this website in its current form, ASG should focus on substantive community commitments rather than reduce student involvement to one word statements. Photographs could highlight community service. The website could also link to resources that could help residents and students get involved in joint community projects, like the joint NU-Evanston project “Volunteer Evanston.” Students should be publicly commended for their dedication to the community in a real and valuable way that would inform Evanston residents of their contributions and vice versa.