New student liaison program starts this month

A new student liaison program will employ 20 students to help ease tensions in two neighborhoods near the University. The program, which was started by Kendre Turonie , coordinator of student and community relations, will employ 18 students in the Southeast Como neighborhood and two students in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. Some tasks the student liaisons will have include helping student renters meet their neighbors, sharing strategies for working with landlords and planning neighborhood events. The student liaisons in the Southeast Como neighborhood will be in charge of a two- to four-block area. The two students in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood will work together throughout the whole area. TuronieâÄôs position was first created after the hockey riots in 2003. She has been trying to implement the program for several years and was finally given the extra budget money. The funding came from the UniversityâÄôs recent Coca-Cola deal. Funding has been set aside for five years, depending on the programâÄôs success. Turonie said she noticed that similar programs were successful at Ohio State University and Michigan State University, and thought the program could work in Minnesota. The student liaisons will have the ear of Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart , and will get to meet with University President Bob Bruininks once a year, if possible. During the meetings, theyâÄôll share what is happening in the neighborhoods, how the interactions with the neighbors are going, what the party scene is like, what people have to put up with in the area and the living conditions of students. If the program is successful, Turonie hopes to expand it to other neighborhoods near the University. Turonie has spoken to permanent residents in the neighborhoods about the program and has gotten some positive responses. âÄúPeople seem pretty excited about it,âÄù Turonie said. âÄúThey definitely are in favor of any program thatâÄôs going to get more students taking responsibility for their behavior and trying to influence that of their peers.âÄù 15-year Southeast Como resident Charlotte Wild said the weekends in her neighborhood have been getting worse. âÄúI feel uncomfortable leaving my house on the weekends because I know itâÄôs party central,âÄù Wild said. âÄúParties now have started on Thursdays. It never used to be Thursdays. It used to be maybe Friday night and for sure Saturday night.âÄù University student Mike Limberg lives in the Southeast Como area and said heâÄôs had a good relationship with permanent residents in his neighborhood. âÄúOne day, a neighbor brought us some cookies,âÄù Limberg said. âÄúThat was pretty cool.âÄù The neighbors have his phone number, he said, so when he has parties at his house and they call, he tries to be accommodating. Wild said communication is important between students and the permanent neighbors. âÄúI think itâÄôs important to have some kind of a dialogue relationship where students can hear what the neighborhood long-time residents feel, see and want to say,âÄù Wild said. While Turonie is accepting all applications, she has also done some selective recruiting by targeting good leaders, as well as former residence hall community advisors. She said she hopes to have all the positions filled in time for the Como cookout event on Sept. 20 at Van Cleve Park.