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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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A cup of St. Joe’s

Students and neighbors come together for dialogue

Community Standards and Student Senate held an event, “Coffee and Conversation,” on March 22 where off-campus students and neighbors of Saint Joseph’s University could come to Starbucks and talk with one another about community relations.

The event was created in order to establish a strong community between neighbors and students, as opposed to seeing them as two separate entities.

“Part of the hope is that with these things that we have on campus, we’re making it clear to the neighbors that they are welcome on our campus too,” said Director of Community Standards Bill Bordak.

This event is one of many others that has been put together by a committee, created last academic year, with many different offices within the student life division.

“One of the initiatives that came out with that committee was to have a happy hour at Landmark in the spring last year,” Bordak said. “We followed that up with the block party at the start of the fall semester which also went really well.”

Student Senate became involved with this event because they thought that it was important for the school and the community to become closer.

“We kind of wanted to capitalize on the conversation as we are doing this expansion of our senate brand and becoming more involved with the community,” said Paulina Syracuse, ‘18, vice president of Student Senate. “Being student leaders, it kind of just made sense to get involved and get people to come and talk with neighbors and make that line of communication.”

Syracuse thinks the relationship between St. Joe’s and the community is distant, but events like these are a good start to unify the university’s relationship with the surrounding communities.

“I think that sometimes it can be a little estranged and maybe some of the neighbors are a little hesitant to accept with the students living next to them,” Syracuse said. “I think that having this really opens a dialogue in showing that the neighbors can speak to us, come onto campus, talk to our community standards.”

Graphic by Luke Malanga ’20.

Local community member Kind Essence, who lives on Wynnefield Avenue and has lived in the area for 12 years, sees the relationship as estranged as well. She wants to see the community as a more connected one.

“There’s a lot of division here and I want to see a [community] more like the University of Penn and Drexel, how they came into it, it felt so much different,” Essence said. “There’s a lot of activities they do, intermingling with community and the school and I like that.”

Essence thinks that an event like “Coffee and Conversation” is a good way to have students intermingle with the neighbors because students leave an impact on the community, and she doesn’t want the impact to be a negative one.

“It is just like when we tell people that you leave a footprint on the earth, what kind of footprint do you want to leave on the minds of the community members here?” Essence said. “It’s important for us to talk with the college students.”

Essence feels the university tries to keep the community out, referencing when the university put the fence up by Sweeney Field.

“Now we have fences up and that clearly tells us stay out of your campus, but we can’t tell them to stay out of our community,” Essence said. They are renting the homes, they live there, they do their thing but you can’t give the same exchange? That hurts.”

Bordak said the event was a good start to have the conversation of how to better the relationship.

“I know one of the tables that I was sitting at, the students and the neighbors were brainstorming ideas,” Bordak said. “Brainstorming ideas to address trash issues, or brainstorming how they could collect furniture at the end of the year for donations. So it was also the planting of some seeds for future initiatives.”

Bordak found the event to be very successful and hopes to continue these events in the future to bring the whole community together.

“What’s been made very clear is that there’s an interest from neighbors, an interest from students to continue these types of experiences and programs, so we are going to keep doing them as long as we are able to,” Bordak said.

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