In Athens, August marks the return of the student population. I have lived and worked in Athens for 16 years and one thing has always bothered me regarding our student population. I don’t think they are too loud. I don’t think they drink
too much, and I don’t think they are a nuisance. But I do think people here in Athens do not appreciate our students as much as they should. Athens, GA is known as one of the nation’s best college towns. It has made numerous top 10 lists through the years claiming it to be true. Depending on who you talk to this can be perceived as a negative or a positive. The reality is that most college towns have a lot to offer residents because of the university. There are some great college towns that would still be great areas without a major university like an Austin, TX but Athens, GA is not one of those places. As great as Athens is without UGA it would likely be a small railroad intersection about 20 miles Southeast of I-85. Fortunately, that is not the case because UGA is located in Athens.
It is not uncommon to hear an adult Athens resident complain about the students. For example, some people complain about the traffic, the amount of bars downtown, and of course the hated fraternities just to name a few. These common complaints have always bothered me and they seem to bother me more and more as I get older. Granted people between the ages of 18 and 22 aren’t known for making wise decisions but they sure bring a great energy to our town. First of all, the university is far and away our biggest employer. UGA brings many visitors to Athens all year long and every fall it provides Athens with a new batch of students that are going to love Athens for the rest of their life. What other Georgia town has such a strong engine fueling its community? Thanks to the university Athens has a major government employer, a strong economic base, and a culture rarely found in a small town.
I think the students are one of the best things going in our community and welcome them every year. Thanks to our university Athens remains a wonderful place to live, start a business, or invest in real estate. We have wonderful neighborhoods, strong outlying communities, and a steady pool of renters that need affordable housing. This helps make the Athens area a great place to live, retire, or invest. So in closing, I want to thank all the college kids that live in Athens year in and year out. I am so glad you are back because without you Athens just wouldn’t be Athens.