Building relationships at Randall Park block party

Community members and students gather for food, games and music

More stories from Rachel Helgeson

Ballin’ on a Budget
October 1, 2018

Photo by Rachel Helgeson

“It’s a good mix. It’s good seeing not just students but also older community members,” Kelly Opie, a fourth-year biology student, said while playing checkers with a friend at Thursday’s block party. Opie is also a Randall Park neighborhood resident.

University students and community members mingled, played yard games and ate together last Thursday at the Randall Park Block Party that was intended to build stronger relationships between the two groups.

“This is a chance to meet with neighbors and take a proactive step in the community,” Chancellor James Schmidt said. Having a good relationship with those living nearby is one way to reduce conflict, he added.

The block party was filled with activities like badminton and other yard games, along with food provided by Sodexo and music playing on loudspeakers.

Student officials and attendees, along with Chancellor Schmidt, were impressed with the turn out.

“This is definitely a success,” UW-Eau Claire Intergovernmental Affairs Director and third-year political science student Charlie Johnson said. “I (had) been losing some sleep over this thinking that we wouldn’t have quite the turn out that we did.”

An estimated 500 students and community members came out to the event, Johnson said at Student Senate’s general meeting.

Hannah Jacobson, a fourth-year finance student and student senator, was enjoying an outdoor version of checkers with a friend at the block party. Jacobson, also a Randall Park neighborhood resident, said she loved the event and was happy to see many community members.

The party was organized by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate with help from the Chancellor’s office and the Randall Park Neighborhood Association. Johnson’s efforts, along with unexpected door-to-door promotion by community members, aided the preparation, Hillary Smith, the Student Senate’s chief of staff, said.

Social media also played a large role in encouraging attendance at this semester’s block party Smith said.

“Instead of sending flyers door-to-door, we had the integrated marketing and communications department at the university help us out, along with Snapchat, Instagram and social media,” Johnson said.

A similar block party has been hosted in the past, Johnson said, but not to the extent of the one this fall semester.

“This year was a little more of a special occasion because of the Public Good Order Ordinance and how it’s coming to a close now.” Johnson said. “We expect city council to be voting on it in October,”

The original Public Good Order Ordinance, which was initially proposed last spring as a revision of a 1953 ordinance, has undergone changes.

Student Senate was a part of the revision process and met as a part of the task force a total of six times to produce a final draft.

“The ordinance is now changed to be called Public Excessive Intoxication Ordinance,” UW-Eau Claire Student Body President Branden Yates said. “There’s basically two parts (including) excessive public intoxication and a second part about leaving cans and litter outside, called community nuisances, to make sure you clean up after yourself.”

The revised draft excludes the section about the bus drop-off times and the section regarding annoying behavior.

Yates, a Randall Park neighborhood resident, said he is encouraging students to support the revised ordinance because it’s not directed solely at students.

“I don’t think this event is in light of that ordinance,” Yates said, “but more events where students and community members can come together are important.”

Helgeson can be reached at [email protected].