BYU students make plans for more livable Provo

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BYU students Zeke Peters and Spencer Duncan presented during a City Council work session about how to make Provo more livable for students. (Provo City)

BYU students presented ideas on how to make Provo more livable and enjoyable for its many university students to the Provo City Council last week. 

Students in the Provo City Lab class have been working this semester with Provo City Planning Supervisor Robert Mills on coming up with ways to enhance the livability of Provo for students. The class divided into six groups and representatives from two of those groups presented to the council on Tuesday, Dec. 1. 

One of the student presenters, Zeke Peters, said the problem is that a lot of students see living in Provo as a temporary pit stop as they get their education, so they don’t get involved with the community because they have plans to move elsewhere. According to Peters, that means students aren’t informed about the local political issues that directly affect them. 

“Our main goal is to make students feel like they’re citizens, even if they are here just temporarily. They should still feel that. Provo is a great place to live,” he said.

Provo is home to thousands of university students, but young adult involvement in local politics and community events is not as high as the city would like. (Whitney Bigelow)

Council Chair George Handley said the average length that students stay in Provo to get their degree, about four to six years, is longer than students often think. 

“Four to six years, that turns out to be the average time that people live in different communities throughout their adult life,” he said. “If you learn in those first four to six years of being an adult away from home how to be a citizen in a local community, then it’s going to be a transferable habit that is going to be beneficial for the long term.” 

The other student presenter, Spencer Duncan, said another reason students don’t want to get involved in the community is because of the low-quality student housing situation in Provo.

“Students pay more money than what they’re getting back, not only in housing but in the quality of their neighborhoods,” Duncan said.

Both student groups came up with solutions to help students become more involved in their local community so they feel like they are citizens of Provo and enjoy living there. 

Duncan’s group proposed a program where BYU students would partner with the Joaquin Neighborhood to do one service activity and one fun community-building activity every quarter. Duncan said this program would help create a relationship between BYU students and long-term residents, as well as improve the physical aspects of the neighborhood through service. 

Peters said his group wanted to create a “Student-City Relations Committee” to streamline the communication between students and city officials. He said this would give the city direct information about the students and give students direct information about the city. 

“Provo is doing lots of things that involves students, where we live, what we’re doing, but (students) don’t know about it,” Peters said. 

Handley said that as a BYU professor and a City Councilor, he’s always felt the need to find ways to help students feel more invested in the community. Handley said he was excited at the potential for these programs to build a stronger relationship between students and Provo City.

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