Students, faculty and community members will have the opportunity Friday to participate in a naturalistic observation of college students on a typical weekend.
While this may conjure images of alcohol abuse and irresponsibility for some, the Neighborhood/Bar Walk, sponsored by the Bridge Campus Community Coalition on Alcohol Issues, is meant to help the community better understand college life and promote communication between permanent and student residents. It also serves as a way to raise awareness for safety issues in the campus area.
“This is just one of those ways where we can keep connected with permanent and student residents to see what kind of issues they’re experiencing,” said Jennifer Lee, director of the Center for Alcohol Studies and Education.
The event begins at 9 p.m. Friday at the Haas Fine Arts and will kick off with a crime briefing from the campus police, presentations from resident hall assistants and a report from a representative of Water Street bar owners, Lee said.
Following the presentations, participants will be able to walk through bars on Water Street and tour the surrounding neighborhoods with police officers to observe student behavior, as well as ask questions of residents about their experiences living in a college community.
“We want to interact with folks,” Lee said. “We want ask them, ‘Have you ever felt unsafe?’ ‘What can be done about X, Y or Z?'”
Lee said the walk is usually held every-other year, and observations from the walks are used to gauge issues throughout the community and implement preventive measures for those problems in the future.
In addition to administration, student senators will also accompany the community members on the walk to act as “interpreters” of sorts, sophomore Senator Sarah Tweedale said.
Tweedale said in addition to student behavior, the groups will also be looking for safety hazards such as certain crosswalks that see heavy student traffic at night.
“It’s really not intended to be … ‘Let’s all watch the bad behavior going on.'” Tweedale said.
Lee said in the past, the event, which is held about every other year, has been a successful, proactive way to help community members better understand how to communicate with students. Overall, however, Lee said issues between permanent residents and students are on the decline, and past events have shown the students are generally well behaved.
“A lot of the people causing problems on Water Street weren’t necessarily students,” Lee said. “I think that was really helpful for people to observe, too, because the truth is most of our students are behaving responsibly.
“Most of our students are behaving respectfully. ”
The Neighborhood/Bar Walk is free and open to the public. To RSVP or for more information, contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-836-5111.