SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- Village President Alex Torpey is supporting efforts to recruit Seton Hall University students to participate in local projects in order to increase their civic involvement and provide more opportunities for them to interact with village residents.

“There have been a number of projects that SHU students have been involved in over the years,” Torpey said, “from helping catalog our gaslights, to cleaning up the river and parks, to an exciting new project aimed at creating more economic development along the Irvington Avenue corridor.”

South Orange residents tend have misconceptions about Seton Hall’s student body, and vice versa, according to Torpey. In addition, conflicts such as the recent disagreement over parking between the university and residents of Tuxedo Park create tension.

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However, Torpey said he feels that “over the last several years we’ve really picked up chipping away at that” and that he hopes the trend will continue.

“Seton Hall is an integral and wonderful part of this community, and students are obviously the biggest part of the SHU community,” he said. “I think there’s usually some tension expected in the ‘town and gown’ relationship but I’d like to erase as much of that as possible and bring our communities closer together in the process.”

It is important for the communities to mesh, Torpey said, because Seton Hall students directly support the village by providing customers for local businesses and attracting positive attention to the area.

“Students play a big role in that (civic advancement), not only through community service, but hanging out and working in downtown businesses and doing great things academically or athletically that bring focus to the town,” he said.

The author is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.