What off-campus housing neighborhoods might your student be considering for next year? German Town? The Old West Side? North Ingalls? Do they know who they want as housemates, roommates, neighbors and friends? How will they stay connected after leaving the tight community of the residence halls?
The Beyond the Diag (BTD) program in the Dean of Students office knows that building and maintaining a sense of community can be challenging in a little town as “big” and diverse as Ann Arbor. That’s why they’ve developed the student-run Neighborhood Ambassador program. BTD is one way students can find their niche during their time at Michigan.
First year graduate student Matt Lonnerstater is one of the Beyond the Diag Program Assistants, and he knows how important it is to stay connected to community. He notes from his Masters work in Urban Planning and his own personal experience:
“In dorms you’re so close to everyone, people just stop by, there’s an open door policy and a real sense of community. But in an apartment you keep your door closed and spend more time alone or with just the few friends you live with. So Beyond the Diag gets people out to meet their neighbors and create new friendships.” (Most recently with a bonfire and s’mores in the North Ingalls neighborhood!)
Beyond the Diag also provides off-campus students with a regular newsletter featuring articles about student safety and off-campus life. Matt points out that building community is one important way students can stay safe:
“If you know who your neighbors are, then they’re more inclined to keep an eye out for you and be aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood. That increases safety in all kinds of ways – just the simple step of neighbors leaving their porch lights on to brighten up a neighborhood can make a real difference. And if you know who your neighbors are you can find people to walk home with from a party.”
Beyond the Diag is still recruiting students to serve as Ambassadors in their own neighborhoods.
To help the Beyond the Diag Program in the Student Life continue making a difference in students' lives, please consider making a gift to the Dean of Students Office.