The Kent State University Graduate Assistant, Neal Stefanko, who was hired to serve as the Kent community’s first neighborhood liaison has been a busy guy. This Fall Neal walked his beat — those neighborhoods that are predominantly student rentals — to introduce himself, to listen and to get a lay of the land.
Bridging the town gown gap is not an easy task, but by all accounts Neal has navigated these waters very well. And although we were realistic in our expectations for what he could accomplish in his first 6 months, I still think he’s done a great job at communicating with the neighbors and I think it’s working.
With a couple of long warm stretches late into Fall there were plenty of late night outdoor festivities in the neighborhoods that could have turned ugly but at the end of the night the revelers went home on their own usually without a police escort — which is always a good thing for everyone involved.
I can’t say that Neal is the reason we had a safe and civil Fall but I think it’s fair to say that his personal touch has helped take some of the edge off of the town gown relations.
Neal let me know that he’s uploaded information for folks to access and download that he thinks offer the kind of sound advice that students and permanent residents need to know. Here’s the welcome message that Neal posted on his site as part of his first neighborhood newsletter called the Kent Communicator:
Welcome to “The Kent Communicator!”
My name is Neal Stefanko and I am the University-Community Liaison and I would like to welcome you to the new “The Kent Communicator.” First, let me explain my position. I am a vital communication tool that will be used between Kent State University and The City of Kent Community. One way I am working to obtaining communication has been to walk through the community going door to door talking to residents and students. Throughout this process I am pleased to say I am enjoying meeting everyone and look forward to meeting those residents and students that I have not yet met. The feedback I am receiving will help in my position continue to make informed communications and educate where needed to obtain a well balanced approach to the University and Community residing in harmony.
Second, I want to welcome everyone to “The Kent Communicator”. This newsletter will be of great value to students and residents alike. Every article will be vital information for students and residents with emphasis on important issues that are needed to help educate and inform students and residents alike. There will be a blend of information streaming from University and Community sources. As this newsletter continues to grow I would encourage anyone and everyone to submit ideas or articles to my email. This may include pictures and graphs or any other information that would be considered vital for everyone from students to community to read about.
In closing, I welcome your feedback at anytime. Feel free to contact me at UniversityCommunityLiaison@kent.edu or 330-672-2480. I cannot wait to hear many more good stories about our amazing student body as well as the opportunity to answer your questions.
Neal A. Stefanko
You can read the entire newsletter by clicking here. (I particularly like his column on How to Get Caught By the Police — good message delivered with a sense of humor.)