U student hired as neighborhood liaison

Junior Matt Hill will act as the student representative for the Marcy-Holmes area.

Kevin McCahill

After the position sat vacant for a semester, the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood finally has a student liaison with plans for improvement in the neighborhood.

Political science and history junior Matt Hill has been hired as the new student liaison in Marcy-Holmes, a position that hasn’t been filled since Sarah Schwan had the position last spring.

Filling the position means students will have a conduit through which to deal with the neighborhood association and police.

Hill, who has lived in Marcy-Holmes for three years, applied for the position because he was tired of the state of affairs in the area, he said.

“I got tired of seeing crime and cars broken into,” he said. “I was sick of seeing students not taking advantage of taking care of their neighborhood.”

Hill, who said his own house was robbed, plans to help protect students from crime and assault in the area.

“I’d like to start with educating students to educate themselves,” he said. “They read (about crime) in the paper and think, That’ll never happen to me.”

Marcy-Holmes executive director Melissa Bean is looking forward to working with Hill.

“I think Matt will do well on the job because he has lived here for several years and is familiar with the neighborhood,” she said. “We are looking forward to working with him because he is energetic and has some fresh new ideas.”

Hill will work about 15 hours a week and be paid $15 an hour. As part of his position, he will meet with neighborhood committees and visit houses to which police have been called and talk about how to be a better neighbor.

Bean said Hill will play an integral role in keeping the neighborhood working smoothly and will help relations between students and longtime residents.

One of those students, journalism sophomore Katie McNabb, said she hopes the liaison will help communication among students.

Bean said students might pay more attention if a fellow student approaches them about an issue.

“A visit from Matt, for example, reminding student-tenants to clean trash in their yard or shovel their sidewalk, could be seen as a friendlier approach than a visit from a longer-term resident stranger.”

Neighborhood revitalization program coordinator Elissa Cottle said she is glad to see a student interested in helping the community.

“I’m very impressed with Matt,” she said. “He really seemed dedicated to neighborhood safety. He seems mature and capable of handling the job.”

For the future, Hill said, he will try to create a positive atmosphere in the neighborhood.

“I’ll talk with students and inform them how the neighborhood isn’t out to get them, they are just asking for a little respect,” he said.

Bean described Hill as interested in crime prevention and educating students about how to keep from becoming crime victims.

He also will work with the neighborhood’s restorative justice program, which provides students an opportunity to avoid fines through community service after being charged with a nonviolent livability crime.

Cottle said Hill will be helpful not only to students, but also to residents.

Peter Mahowald, a longtime resident, said he generally feels safe in the area, but would like to see someone focus on the issues of vandalism and overall community relations.

In the end, Hill said, he hopes to leave Marcy-Holmes better than he found it.

“If I can educate five students on how to be good neighbors, that’s five neighbors that didn’t know about it before,” he said.