Relating to the two coexisting communities of a university town, i.e., the university (primarily the students) and the residents of the town where it is located, used especially in reference to tensions between the two. "Gown" is a reference to the traditional academic gown once worn by university students, now typically reserved for graduation ceremonies. The city council decided to establish a collaborative committee dedicated to helping resolve such town-gown disputes. Town-gown relations have continued to sour as residents' complaints about noise and congestion within the town have increased.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Relations between a college and the municipality in which it is located. Students at British universities and boarding schools were fond of playing pranks on the inhabitants of the cities and towns where the schools were. However, not all the “pranks” were pranks: drunken carousing, theft, arson, and other crimes were done under the guise of boyish high spirits. These uneasy relations between town and “gown” (students wore academic robes, as in “cap and gown”) happened in this country too, and there are still times when a mayor and a college dean meet to try and smooth ruffled feathers.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price