Noticing a disconnect between Rexburg residents and BYU-Idaho students, Mayor Jerry Merrill invites students to get involved.

Merrill expressed his concerns after last week’s bi-monthly city council meeting, adding, “the more you get involved, the more you feel at home.”

Mason Sorensen, a junior studying biology at BYU-I, has also noticed a disconnect between students and the community.

“The main problem is communication,” said Sorenson, “We get emails telling us about campus events every week, but we never know about anything in the community until the last minute.”

When asked what it would take to get him to go to city events, Jeremy Crumbo, a freshman studying communication at BYU-I, replied, “An invitation and food.”

Crumbo went on to explain how the city has good offerings, but they are not well advertised towards students. 

Rexburg City Hall. Photo credit: Andy Adams.
Rexburg City Hall. Photo credit: Andy Adams.

Merrill spoke of the need to plan “wholesome and fun activities that combine the community and the students.” Experience Rexburg, an annual event hosted by the city each fall, is designed to showcase local businesses.

Sorenson said she could attend events like Experience Rexburg as long as they are not too far from campus. 

“I can easily make a ten-minute walk to Porter Park,” Sorenson said.

The mayor emphasized the importance of involvement in the community and Rexburg’s community values. Rexburg’s motto is “America’s family community,” and Merrill and his council do their best to uphold these values.  

“Is this something that is good for a family?” Merrill asked. “That’s what we base our decisions on.”

Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill. Photo credit: Andy Adams.
Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill. Photo credit: Andy Adams.

Merrill is put in a difficult situation where he manages a city full of families and students with diverse wants and needs. He further supports his council’s community values by making sure city events benefit both families and students.

“Sometimes college students will say, ‘We can’t do anything that’s fun,’” Merrill said. “We have to pay attention to not only what you want to do but what our residents want. As far as peace, quiet and tranquility, there’s always a balance.”

While students are aware that Rexburg is a family-centered community, they are often unaware that the mayor is trying to keep both the community and students happy. Getting involved locally can shed a new perspective on Rexburg and its family-oriented community. 

“This community is a lot more close-knit than my hometown,” Crumbo said. “I don’t know anyone in my neighborhood in Indiana, but in small towns like Rexburg, it’s really easy for anyone to get to know their neighbor. It’s really nice to know we’re surrounded by a community that thinks family is important.”