Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Fall 2012

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Benjamin Brown


University of New Hampshire students and Durham, New Hampshire residents have a historically contentious relationship that reached a low point in the early 2000s. On three occasions, university students flooded downtown Durham, vandalized stores and started altercations with police. Local newspaper reports and anecdotes assert that relations have improved since that time.

This study utilizes 39 semi-structured student, resident, business- owner and administrator interviews to examine the current state of the relationship. A brief overview of town-gown relations and a case study of student-resident relations at the University of Delaware is included to highlight the universality of the issues in this relationship. A brief history of student-resident relations in Durham is also given to contextualize the current Durham relationship. In addition, this study analyzes the effectiveness of various university and town initiatives to ameliorate student-resident relations. Interview data indicates that the relationship between students and residents has become increasingly positive in the past decade and that students are an asset to the town as a result of their economic contributions, volunteerism and general energy level.

At the same time, both students and residents recognize that a minority of students are responsible for noise and vandalism in town. Similarly, interviewees acknowledged that lifestyle differences between students and residents will always be a source of tension. However, interviewees espoused the belief that increased personal interactions and respect would further improve the relationship. Also, solutions such as the Town of Durham’s Rental Housing Commission and the university’s "Community Living Guide", have proven effective in increasing communication and informing students about how to be positive community members. New solutions are also recommended based on interview data and through the examination of initiatives untaken in other college towns