Ann Arbor repeatedly makes the list as being one of “America’s Best College Towns.” With so many great businesses in our downtown districts, the best football stadium in the country, and a beautiful college campus all intertwined within a dense urban area, it’s no surprise that Ann Arborites feel more than a little bit deserving of this honor. An aspect that often gets overlooked in the process of rating a “college-town atmosphere,” however, is the sense of community (or lack thereof) in off-campus neighborhoods. On-campus, there are a variety of University-sponsored events that encourage undergraduate and graduate students alike to interact with one another and create new friendships. In Ann Arbor’s off-campus neighborhoods, however, students may go an entire year or two in their houses or apartments without actually meeting their neighbors.
In its second year, Beyond the Diag – a student-led group based out of the Dean of Students office - is aiming to build stronger communities within Ann Arbor’s student neighborhoods. Currently, Beyond the Diag’s student liaisons are working to enhance the off-campus experience in 12 neighborhoods throughout the City. These student liaisons, officially entitled “Neighborhood Ambassadors (NAs),” plan various neighborhood social events throughout the year, as well as connect neighborhood residents with important information and resources relating to the University, the City, and general safety and wellness.
Now, as a first-year graduate student, I completely understand the following sentimental question: “Why would I want to interact with my lowly, rowdy undergraduate neighbors?” As a first-year graduate student only one year removed from undergraduate studies, however, I completely understand the opposing viewpoint: “Why would I want to interact with my boring graduate neighbors?” As the program assistant for Beyond the Diag, my simple response to these questions is as follows: Free food! Free food at your next Beyond the Diag neighborhood event leads to conversations with your neighbors. Conversations with neighbors lead to new connections and friendships. New connections and friendships lead to stronger, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods…all of which lead to a more enjoyable off-campus experience!
To find out which off-campus neighborhood you live in, and for more information about Beyond the Diag, visit www.offcampus.umich.edu, visit the Beyond the Diag’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UMbeyondthediag, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Matt Lonnerstater, Program Assistant, Beyong the Diag
Published in: Resources and Events