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Chapel Hill residents meet the students next door

Spencer Goodson, Megan Wooley-Ousdahl, and Kay Pearlstein stand outside Turner Alvernaz's home as part of the Good Neighbor Initiative.

Spencer Goodson, Megan Wooley-Ousdahl, and Kay Pearlstein stand outside Turner Alvernaz's home as part of the Good Neighbor Initiative.

Volunteers with the Good Neighbor Initiative went door-to-door in Chapel Hill neighborhoods with large student populations on Monday.

The program, now in its twelfth year, promotes respectful relationships between students and permanent residents..

“Students really appreciate the opportunity to get good information about what the expectations of living in the neighborhoods are,” Bachenheimer said. “That’s really what the focus of the Good Neighbor Initiative is—welcoming students to the neighborhood and making sure they’re equipped with the expectations of living off-campus.”

Bachenheimer said with a record of 95 volunteers, Good Neighbor was able to visit over 1,200 houses.

The initiative is a partnership between the University, town and non-profits, he said. Volunteers consisted of people from all three groups, including students, firefighters, police officers and residents.

The information given to residents included trash pickup guidelines, the four-person occupancy rule and noise ordinances.

“The first goal of the initiative is to welcome students, to let them know they are valuable and we are glad to have them in our community,” he said. “The second purpose of the program is to provide them with the necessary information needed with respect to responsibility and expectations of living in a neighborhood.”

Gray Johnston, a senior public policy major living on Vance Street, said it was nice to see volunteers in the neighborhood, but doubts the program will change student behavior.

“I’m not sure how effective the action from the volunteers will be for making student residents change their actions,” Johnston said. “But I think it is a comforting notion for the long-term residents to know there are people keeping them in mind.”

Wilson Sink, a junior political science major, volunteered on the walk-through. Sink said the initiative gives permanent residents information to interact more effectively with student neighbors.

“It gives the permanent residents a platform to communicate with students, an agency to make a difference,” he said. “They have a way to say, ‘hey, we talked about this, let’s make a compromise, can you please keep it down,’ and those sorts of things.”

The follow-up to the walk-through is the annual Neighborhood Night Out and Block Party on September 10 at the Hargraves Center. It will have free food, music, games and a raffle.

“We just want students to be good neighbors,” Bachenheimer said. “But it’s important to emphasize that a vast majority of Carolina students are good neighbors.” 

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