University unveils off-campus outreach program
THE SANTA CLARA
October 8, 2015
Callie Rimpfel, the off campus area coordinator for the Office of Student Life, said that the new program intends to increase the university’s presence off campus.
However, their responsibilities do not include handling student conduct or working with police, which is a duty that the Office of Student Life still maintains.
“My position is what I call the fun side of it,” she said. “I supervise the neighborhood ambassadors, I work as a support system. I don’t write reports, I don’t go out on duty or anything like that. I’m more of just an advocate and creating programs for students to learn how to live off campus,” Rimpfel said.
According to Rimpfel, a group of administrators advocated for the creation of the program. The group included Kim Gilkey-Wall, the assistant dean for off campus student life, Mike Hindery, the vice president for finance and administration and Jeanne Rosenberger, the vice provost for student life and dean of students.
“I think it was just a lot of people who realized, let’s put some money behind this to support students who don’t feel like they’ve been supported,” Rimpfel said.
Seniors Mikey Muchemu and Jordan Enos as well as junior Areany Tolentino, who all live off campus, were chosen to serve as the first-ever neighborhood ambassadors. Their duties include serving as connections to the off-campus community as well as creating free programming for off-campus students.
According to Muchemu, all are involved in Greek life, but each of them is affiliated with a different house. He says that this is to the ambassadors’ advantage, but that he’s also looking forward to branching out and meeting more off-campus residents.
“We have pretty broad networks of people,” Muchemu said. “We’re in the neighborhood, we all live here and our friends live in these houses. It’s gonna be the people that we see everyday.”
Muchemu also said that he did a walk-around with the Santa Clara Police Department to show officers around the neighborhood as well as introduce himself and give out information about the program.
The perception that the ambassadors are authority figures is incorrect, he said.
“We don’t have disciplinary power, we’re just trying to put on some programs and make Santa Clara’s presence off campus felt a little bit more in the most beneficial way we can,” he said.
The ambassadors hosted their first event Monday, Oct. 5 in the backyard of 826 Market Street, the location of the off-campus living office and the home base for the neighborhood ambassador program. According to Rimpfel, the event was an opportunity for students to meet with neighbors.
Other potential programs could include cooking classes as well as workshops for learning to read and understand leases and finances, or as Rimpfel calls it, “Adulting 101.” Rimpfel said that the need for this type of programming comes as a result of possible landlord abuse and the housing ordinance, which did not pass in last year’s local election, but threatened to displace many students living with non-relatives in off-campus housing.
Senior Hollie Wallenfels, who lived in the University Villas last school year but has since moved into a house off campus, said that though she had not yet heard of the new neighborhood ambassador program, she would consider attending some of their events.
She added that managing finances, navigating leases and dividing bills amongst roommates is not something taught in the classroom. She also said that she thinks many students have to figure out the nuances of off-campus living on their own, which can lead to increased stress and fighting amongst housemates.
“I’m sure that if it was advertised more, then people would definitely take advantage of it,” she said.
Rimpfel said that because her office is new, right now they are advertising their name slowly getting off-campus residents aware of and involved in their programs.
She adds that she has confidence in the ambassadors’ large networks and ability to spread information by word of mouth.
“Culture is hard to change so I think it’ll take a couple years for people to recognize what this office could do.”
Contact Jenni Sigl at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.