Slippery Rock University, the only large business in the Slippery Rock area for many years, has been a great influence on our economy. Through the years it has offered, and still offers, many jobs including administrators, teachers and blue-collar positions. People have come from all over the country seeking jobs to provide a good living for themselves and their families. They’ve bought or built homes and some retired here.
Young people from all walks of life have come to further their education. Would all the business and restaurants be here if the university, originally called the Normal School, had been located some other place?
The community has always provided a place for students. My husband’s grandmother, his two aunts, my mother and my aunt all came to Slippery Rock to pursue their education. They all rented rooms from residents. Two aunts went on to become nurses; one became a teacher and taught in a one-room school for more than 50 years; and the other became a homemaker.
Later, older homes were converted for student rentals and student housing complexes were built.
There have been students living in the borough for many years, and along with them came various problems. I can remember when there were issues between the “townies” and students. Problems with student-filled houses and fraternities with no supervision.
Through the years, the borough and university police, along with the state police, and borough council and landlords worked to solve many of those problems.
University students answer the call to help in the borough when there is a need. Just the other morning, I saw a student sweeping the sidewalk at Main and New Castle streets. I was told it was a volunteer working under the auspices of the Slippery Rock in Bloom organization.
One issue stems from the belief by some that landlords don’t pay their fair share for garbage collection. Most renters have a contract with the garbage company, not the landlord. The garbage bill is added to the water bill, which they also pay.
Unless the landlord has a roll-off container, he does not have a contract with the garbage company. Students living in most apartments pay monthly for garbage collection and are charged even for the summer months and vacation time they are not in here.
I challenge borough council to dig deeper into the history of the impact the university students have had in the borough and make it a better place for them to be while getting their education.