The Penn State community held the fifth annual Living In One Neighborhood Walk Monday evening in order to bring together the students with the State College residents.
“I think it’s one of the wonderful things to be able to share when Penn State students, residents and administrators come together and welcome people to town,” said Emil Cunningham, a practitioner of student affairs. “It’s an opportunity, really, to make the community better, something more than what it should be.”
Cunningham said the groups, which are comprised of a person from the borough, a student, a police officer and a Penn State official, visit students and community residents and knock on the door to encourage them to meet their neighbors.
“The police are involved because it’s nice for the community to see us in a new light,” said Rebecca Bywater, a member of the University Police. “We are members of the community as well, so it’s nice for students to be able to see us in a non-confrontational way where they can actually view us as a resource.”
Other attendees at the event included Penn State President Rodney Erickson, State College Borough Mayor Elizabeth Goreham, and the Nittany Lion mascot.
Kate Doe, the coordinator of the office of community engagement, said they choose a theme, which was party safe this year, then drop off bags containing coupons and free items at the homes.
The bags also included information packets with information on dangerous drinking and how to be a good neighbor as well as a survey in which respondents will be entered into a raffle.
Though the walk is listed on the State College Borough Council’s website, Doe said most residents are surprised to see the groups.
“It’s something silly, but it’s sometimes the silly things that bring us all together,” Cunningham said.
This year, Doe said they had over 150 volunteers, which is an increase from previous years.
“It’s a good message that we need right now, to be one unified group, and I think the people appreciate that aspect of it,” said Kelsey Fleming, the coordinator of the walk.
Penn State senior Amy Waldron said the purpose of the walk is to try to give back to the community and show the residents that the students appreciate the sharing of their home.
“Instead of letting them hear about who we are, we can go out and show them,” she said.
Waldron (senior-marketing) said she was thrilled to be a part of the walk because she always looks for new ways to connect the two different communities.
“I think the best part about it is it is a community of students,” she said. “And it allows the community to realize that we’re willing to go out and introduce ourselves and let them know who we are.”