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Campus launches off-campus program

Melissa Flannigan | Friday, January 21, 2011

The Off-Campus Council has set up an off-campus student ambassador program in order to increase communication with students living off campus.

The program, which began at the end of last semester, assigns a student representative to each off-campus area where students live. These representatives, who live off campus in the same area, are able to be direct liaisons between the council and the students.

Off-campus president Ryan Hawley said student government came up with the idea while discussing ways to increase the effectiveness of Off-Campus Council.

“It’s really to gain better communication with off-campus students,” Hawley said. “It’s hard when there’s three members of the Off-Campus Council and about 1,800 students off (campus).”

Hawley said the ambassadors are geographically based, with a student from each of the housing complexes surrounding Notre Dame as well as from different neighborhoods of student houses.

The jobs of the ambassadors are mainly to distribute information to the students in their jurisdiction and to get student feedback on life off campus. Hawley said the group is mainly concentrating on security and safety issues.

“That’s our primary focus right now, how do we alleviate that,” Hawley said. “Our initial thing is sending out crime alerts so they know if something happened near them.”

Hawley said these crime alerts have prompted many students not only to become more aware of their surroundings, but also to report other incidents that the Off-Campus Council hadn’t known about.

The Off-Campus Council recruited students for the ambassador positions by e-mailing all of the students currently living off campus. Hawley said the fact that a person responded to the e-mail means they will be perfect for the job.

“Naturally, the people who responded were the people interested in solving problems,” Hawley said.

Student will have bi-weekly meetings at Studebagels — an incentive to join — while others volunteered due to personal experiences with crime. Senior ambassador Deirdre Murdy said she was motivated because her neighborhood has had several security issues.

“When I saw the opportunity to be more in touch with Off-Campus Council and hopefully increase security for our area I figured it would be helpful,” Murdy said.

Lauren Hemington, the ambassador for Legacy Village, was also happy to join the program. Hemington said she was encouraged by the communal aspect of it.

“I just felt senior year I wasn’t really doing as many activities as I could be,” Hemington said. “I just got an e-mail and thought, ‘Why not meet different people my last semester?'”

In addition, Hemington said she hopes to present some of her own ideas to improve off-campus life, including the possibility of an off-campus dining hall.

“I miss the whole social aspect of the dining hall,” Hemington said. “And I feel a lot of people aren’t using their meal plans, so I think it’d be really convenient.”

Off-Campus Council is continuing to spread the news of the program to students. Hawley said while they’re still looking for more students to become ambassadors, they’d also like to encourage those who already have ambassadors to utilize them.

“We really want students to use their ambassador and to contact people,” Hawley said. “We want them to know what’s going on.”