Aug 242005
 
Authors: Katrina Tamminga

Several off-campus students were surprised Wednesday night to open the doors of their homes to police officers and community volunteers.

Fortunately for them it was not because of trouble or noise but because volunteers from Community Welcome hit the streets to welcome students back to school.

For the fifth year Community Welcome, a collaboration of Fort Collins Police officers, CSU police officers, staff and students visited over 2,500 homes surrounding the CSU campus, handing out information packets about being a good neighbor and how to throw safe and controlled parties.

According to Anne Hudgens, executive director of campus life, Community Welcome's goal is to welcome off-campus students into the community.

"It's really a positive prevention," Hudgens said. "We are giving tips to students about how to be a positive community member and neighbor. It's a partnership that CSU has formed with the Fort Collins Police (Services) and the Fort Collins Neighborhood Services and it seems to work."

According to Mayor Doug Hutchinson, Fort Collins community members want students to understand what it takes to be a welcomed part of the community.

"CSU students are a vibrant part of our community and we want students to feel like residents and not just guests in our community," he said.

Michael Avrech, a Fort Collins police officer, said the police are working with CSU because they want students to understand the ordinances and statutes in effect in Fort Collins.

"Even though CSU has their own officers we still interact with the students, especially off-campus students," Avrech said. "We want to talk with both students and community members and let them know we are trying to mediate. We are not anti-party, we just need to keep people safe and make sure that they understand the parameters for having a safe party. Students need to know that if they call on us for help when things get out of hand, we more than likely will not issue them a ticket, we are here for their assistance and to keep things from getting out of hand."

Ginny Sawyer, a Fort Collins neighborhood administrator, said the community and the university are taking a proactive approach.

"Ignorance isn't an answer. Everyone including students and community members will get this information," Sawyer said. "It's not just for students."

Whitney Carlson, a senior health and exercise major, volunteered for Community Welcome because she wants to make sure the community members know that students are supporting this as well.

"We want the community to know that most students want to be good neighbors and are not the trouble-makers they often think," Carlson said.

Ben Hoffman, a junior wildlife biology major, was one off-campus student that was visited by Community Welcome.

"I think this is a good notion and very hopeful," Hoffman said. "The problem is that a lot of students, especially those who are living off-campus for the first time, are going to want to test their limits and are going to do so regardless of what officers and community members say."

According to Sawyer, Community Welcome was started in 2001 in response to a serial rapist in the community. Sawyer said the program was such a success and such a good way to get information out that it has been held each year since.

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