In a college town, the relations between “town and gown” are those between the residents of the town and the students and faculty associated with the school, who in the past wore academic gowns. Such relations are often not friendly or pleasant.
The inhabitants of a college or university town and the students and personnel of the college, as in There used to be friction between town and gown but the new parking lots have eased it. The gown in this expression alludes to the academic robes traditional in British universities.
[ Early 1800s