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AUGUST 12, 2006
'Good Neighbor' teams to help students start off right

by Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Jablonski Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill News

 

As the start of the university's academic year approaches, our students will begin their migration back to the Chapel Hill area.

Many longtime residents know well the rhythm of the late summer move-in, identified by moving vans, increased business activity downtown area and a general rise in the hustle and bustle of pedestrians along our streets. Aug.19 is the official move-in day for Carolina students this fall. In this one day the face of our community will change as many of our 26,000-plus students begin moving into homes either on or off campus. It is the influx of these students each year that contributes to making Chapel Hill a vibrant and exciting place to live.

You have probably heard many times that Carolina's mission is teaching, research and public service. Our students manifest our public service mission as they log countless volunteer hours in the community. The importance of this public service is a palpable and valuable contribution that our students provide to the well-being of the community.

At its core, public service is based on respect for our community neighbors. We know that students' engagement in service connects them to the town in real and tangible ways. We expect that students who live off campus will model the respect they show in their volunteer work within their own neighborhoods as well.

Some of our students may move into your neighborhood this year. For the past few years, to help students make the transition to living in the broader community, the university administration and student government leaders have joined with colleagues in town of Chapel Hill departments and with neighborhood associations and agencies to provide educational and community resources to students through our Good Neighbor Initiative.

As part of move-in day on Aug. 19, "Good Neighbor" teams made up of Chapel Hill police officers, university representatives from student affairs and student government and permanent residents from neighborhoods near campus will again walk around to welcome students who are moving in.

The teams will knock on doors for a quick conversation to say, "Welcome, we're glad you're here. This neighborhood is made up of a diverse group of residents, some professionals, some students, some young families and some retired persons. Please take some time to go next door and meet your neighbors."

We will also use this opportunity to share information that all new residents need, such as local resources and ways to get involved in the community, as well as town ordinances on litter, noise, front-yard parking, and whom to call if they encounter problems.

Being a good neighbor will come naturally to many of our students, and we believe that a little education, a hearty welcome and a personal touch will help build a strong base for the positive relationships we hope our students will develop with their neighbors.

If you are a neighbor to our students, we hope you will reach out and welcome them as well. Go next door and say hello. Build a neighborly relationship with them, with open communication, so you can talk if a concern arises, or depend on each other if needed in the coming months.

As we work with our students living off-campus, we also remain committed to making on-campus living an attractive choice for students. Move-in day will mark the opening of major new housing on campus. Ram Village, a complex of five buildings on south campus, will provide apartment-style living for 900 sophomores through seniors.

Campus residence halls are also undergoing extensive renovations. Morrison Residence Hall, which is always one of our most popular halls, will reopen in 2007, providing another 875 beds. This year our two oldest residence halls, Old East and Old West, will be closed for renovation.

This new housing construction and renovation program fulfills a key component of the 2001 campus master plan to increase housing and to create a sense of residential community on south campus. The Rams Head Center, with its new dining hall and student recreation center, began the transformation when it opened in 2005.

South campus living will have another boost this spring when the Student Services complex opens on the corner of Manning Drive and Ridge Road, the former site of Chase Dining Hall. Bringing to one site most student service offices on campus, this building will also provide additional space for study and meetings 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As we strive to create a healthy community for our students on and off campus, partnerships like the Good Neighbor Initiative encourage our off campus students to recognize the value of our permanent neighbors and the meaning of neighborhood and being a good citizen.

MORE INFO

For more information about how the Good Neighbor Initiative can assist in your neighborhood, please contact our colleagues in the Chapel Hill Police Department's Community Services Unit at 969-2068, or contact us on campus at GoodNeighbor@unc.edu.

Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Jablonski is vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She came to Carolina from Brown University and welcomes calls and emails at 966-4045 and Margaret_Jablonski@unc.edu.  

 







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