Even when students move off campus, the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and Community Involvement (OFSLCI) continues to offer support for housing.
Since the OFSLCI expanded into the community 2011, it has provided resources, education and support for students regarding off-campus living.
“Our mission is to support all students at Carolina who are thinking of moving off campus, already live off-campus, or are in the transition,” said Aaron Bachenheimer, director of the OFSLCI.
For students thinking of moving off-campus, the office provides education about what rights and responsibilities students will have when living off-campus, including how to choose roommates and how to manage budgets.
When students move off campus, the office works to welcome students to the area and to connect student residents to non-student residents through resources such as the monthly newsletter the Tar Heel Citizen Times.
One of the largest projects the office works on regarding off-campus housing is the Good Neighbor Initiative (GNI), a program in which volunteers welcome students to the local neighborhoods and hand out flyers with important information door-to-door at the beginning of the school year.
A month after the semester begins, the GNI hosts a block party to unite students and non-students.
Peter Blumberg, former Interfraternity Council president, volunteered for the GNI last year and said the main goal was to connect students with permanent residents.
“Students need to remember that (the neighborhood) isn’t just their home for a year, but some people’s home forever,” he said.
For the GNI, along with many other community programs, the OFSLCI partners with local organizations such as the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, the Marian Cheek Jackson Center and the Chapel Hill Planning Department.
“There isn’t a divide between campus and town,” said Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.
The OFSLCI is also working with the Jackson Center and Chapel Hill Planning Department to create the Neighborhood Outreach Coordinators program, in which students will be hired to serve liaisons between the University and community.
Bachenheimer said he plans to launch the pilot for the program this semester.
Hudson Vaughan, deputy director of the Jackson Center, said the program is like an off-campus resident adviser program.
Since the office’s expansion, the community awareness level of students living off campus has icreased, Bachenheimer said.
“Students are more in tune with the fact that when they move off campus, they are living in the community,” he said. “They recognize that they aren’t just living around students and that their actions and behavior affects everyone.”
If problems arise between different residences off campus that involve law enforcement action, Bachenheimer said he will visit student homes after the police have been contacted to discuss the problem and how to avoid it in the future.
“Students choose if they want to be positive or negative influences, and we’ve seen examples of both,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan said problems tend to arise with more than four unrelated people living together in a house, which can cause disruptions in the neighborhoods.
He also said he wished that the University would provide more resources for the community involvement aspect of the OFSLCI.
“Any office that combines fraternity and sorority life and community involvement has to respond to the one with more emergencies—and I think you can guess which one that is,” he said.
Vaughan said he thinks the OFSLCI has done a good job with the resources they have.
“What’s great is that permanent residents can call Aaron with any concerns and Aaron will respond,” he said.
The town of Chapel Hill has also recognized Bachenheimer’s work.
Bachenheimer and Megan Wooley, planner for Housing and Neighborhood Services, were awarded the Town and Gown Award, which is given to an individual who creates a beneficial relationship between the town of Chapel Hill and UNC.
The OFSLCI works not only to support students, but the town of Chapel Hill as well.
“If there’s ever a problem, we have a great partner to reach out to,” said McGurk.
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