The relationship between Towson University and its surrounding residential neighborhoods has been uneasy over the years, if not downright hostile at times, and the coronavirus is adding further strain.
Longtime residents like Paul Hartman fear students living and moving off-campus will spread COVID-19 to older, more vulnerable residents.
“Students like to socialize, and that’s totally natural,” said Hartman, vice president of the Aigburth Manor Association of Towson, a neighborhood near Towson University. “But we’re worried that they’re gonna spend a ton of time in large groups, either at private homes or outdoors where they’re close together, or in the bars in Towson.
“That’s always been a problem, [students] coming through the neighborhood after the bars close,” he said. “but now we’ve got the added problem of spreading a virus.”
While Baltimore County’s positivity rate for coronavirus has remained below the World Health Organization-recommended 5% since July 7, and is currently 4.4%, Towson University’s positivity rate over a recent 12-day period was 11%. According to its coronavirus testing data dashboard, 203 students and 18 faculty and staff members tested positive for the virus between Aug. 22 and Sept. 2.
Concerns over disease spread from college students is “absolutely legitimate,” said Brendan Felch, a Towson senior studying graphic design. “You’re sticking a bunch of college students together who haven’t seen each other in six months, and you’re expecting them to be responsible?”