Wanted: a community-builder

Community outreach coordinator to enhance off-campus living

The search is on for a community outreach coordinator, whose role it will be to build a sense of community for students living off campus.

“I would anticipate that this person would be regularly visiting with the students ... stopping by, seeing how they’re doing, maybe bringing them things–food or items they might use,” said Jason Laker, associate vice-principal and dean of student affairs.

“In my last job at another university, I knocked on doors, I would give them toilet paper, message pads, pizza coupons.” This position will allow students to establish a more personal relationship with the University as an institution, Laker said.

“I think that’s missing a lot in higher education, and it’s missing a lot in the drama of the discourse that’s happening between the people in the University, the city and the students,” he said. “There’s sort of an arm’s-length thing where it’s very difficult to engage with each other in a very personal way.”

Laker said the new outreach coordinator, who will earn an annual salary of $43,867, will probably organize activities and liaise between the administration and off-campus students.

“I would think there would be social events–barbecues, discussions, either in people’s homes or at locations around town–that this person could help organize,” Laker said.

Carey O’Connor, Comm ’08, is head of the selection committee, which is currently reviewing more than 50 applications for the position.

O’Connor, who lives in the Ghetto herself, said she’d like to have a University presence there to build a sense of community.

“It would be nice to have someone from the University just around to get the word out that the University is here for the students and is here in a positive way,” she said. “As a student, I would feel great if the coordinator took the time to find something I was interested in.” Laker said this initiative isn’t about Homecoming, which has been a touchy subject in town-gown relations since an unsanctioned street party on Aberdeen Street last year.

“I don’t want, every time we do something nice for people, for it to be seen as some strategic priority,” he said. “It’s just a nice thing to do, and there’s just no better reason.”

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