Oct 182010
Authors: Beth Sowder, Fort Collins Neighborhood Services manager

By now, many of you are aware that the city of Fort Collins and CSU are committed to a shared responsibility of educating our student neighbors and maintaining quality neighborhoods. Since 2002, with the creation of the Community Liaison Position, our community has taken a creative and innovative approach to the different challenges our students, and neighborhoods face.

Every university town faces similar issues with successfully integrating a vibrant student population into the larger community and into existing neighborhoods.

What is unique to Fort Collins is the level of collaboration and creativity brought to addressing these issues. The Community Liaison program is a joint effort where CSU and the city each contribute half of the operating budget.
The financial commitment underscores that each organization is highly committed to building positive relationships between students and long-term residents.

In the last eight years, the Community Liaison program has developed a variety of educational programs and campaigns. Jeopardy sessions educate freshmen students who will be moving off-campus and into the neighborhoods the following fall about local codes, ordinances and good neighboring tips.

A student handbook is delivered to all 5,000 freshmen before moving off-campus. The U 2 campaign provides widespread education about the city of Fort Collins’ occupancy ordinance, and the “Duh” poster campaign describes some of the City’s most-violated code requirements in fun illustrations.

During Community Welcome, taking place during the first week of the fall semester, 25 teams go door-to-door in neighborhoods close to campus welcoming students and neighbors back for another school year.

The teams also provide valuable information about codes and ordinances and good-neighboring tips. Anyone who gets a noise violation is required to take a Party Partners class that serves to lessen repeat violations. And the “Renting 101: Preferred Tenant’s Class” offers valuable information to students prior to moving off campus.

These programs and campaigns are all designed to help students understand what living off-campus entails. It’s equally important that student and non-student neighbors get to know one another.

The Community Liaison program has brought hundreds of CSU students into the neighborhoods for volunteer projects through CSUnity and the Fall Clean-Up.

Fall Clean-up, which is occurring this year on Nov. 6, specifically helps our long-term neighbors who are elderly or disabled with leaf raking and yard clean-up. Last year, more than 500 students volunteered for 100 neighbor projects.

We’re continuously looking for creative ways to help build strong neighborhoods. With the creation of a Party Registration program, students can register their off-campus parties and receive a warning should someone complain. This gives students the chance to break up their parties before police are dispatched.

For the last five years, Melissa Emerson filled the Community Liaison position and worked diligently to listen to students, long-time residents, CSU administration and city officials to find programming to meet the needs of our community. She received many accolades for her work, and I want to take this opportunity to thank Melissa for her hard work and dedication.

Starting in December, Adrienne Battis will be the new face in the Off Campus Life Office.

We look forward to our continuing work with students and neighborhoods to assure that CSU and Fort Collins continue to be great places to go to school, live, work and play.

Beth Sowder is Fort Collins’ Neighborhood Services manager. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:29 pm

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