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Summit connects students, community

Meghan Manning | Monday, March 29, 2010

The fourth annual Notre Dame Community Summit introduced new staff and student leaders Friday afternoon and updated the progress in relations between the community and the University before student government turnover occurs on April 1.

“It was a great chance for the new leaders to meet with the members of the community that we’ve established relations with, and that we’ve created really successful events and programs with,” senior Denise Baron, a member of student government’s Committee on Community Relations, said. “It’s done at this time so we can ease the transition and help connect new leaders to the community members we have been working with.”

One development highlighted was the creation of the Crime Safety and Prevention Task Force, started this fall in response to the growing concerns of crime targeted at students in the greater South Bend area. Student body president Grant Schmidt said the task force has made significant improvements in this area.

Summit participants later broke into small groups to individually discuss specific divisions of community-University relations. They addressed transportation, cultural collaboration, good-neighbor relations and forms of engagement.

“Each group had about five students and five community members, so it was a nice mix of viewpoints on these topics,” Baron said.

The sub-groups later presented their ideas to the entire Summit, when they were able to receive feedback on specific ideas they had to tackle any of the current challenges involved with community-University relations.

“It was great because the University leaders who can answer the students’ questions and suggestions were present, so we were able to get quick responses on ideas that emerged,” Baron said.

Among the ideas discussed was the proposition for students to have a more direct involvement in the distribution of information to local areas. The idea of sub-block captains, where students would work with permanent South Bend residents to do this, was proposed.

“The idea was to help encourage student involvement and interaction on a variety of levels,” Baron said.

Baron said the committee has put on a lot of great events over the past term, and was excited for how the developments between the University and its neighbors will continue to grow.