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Monday, September 28, 2020

Case Student Campaign Wants to Improve Town-Gown Relations

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2020 at 1:13 PM

  • Charles Burkett Jr./FlickrCC
A new student-led initiative at Case Western Reserve University wants to expose and tear down the "imaginary line of division" between the college campus in University Circle and the surrounding communities.

Students and recent alumni who created the "Know Your Neighbors" campaign say they want to establish positive relationships between students and area residents by raising awareness about the university's historic treatment of nearby neighborhoods and battling stereotypes by exposing students to the area's many amenities and assets.

The campaign hosted a virtual panel last week with a number of community leaders and residents. It was designed, in part, to "repair the broken trust" between the campus and the adjacent neighborhoods and to inspire a respect for differences.

"When CWRU students and faculty do engage in the areas within walking distance of campus—like East Cleveland and the Glenville and Hough neighborhoods—it is often service oriented; trying to "fix" them," a press release announcing the 'Think Beyond the Bubble" panel explained. "The students wish to communicate with their fellow student body that these communities are not broken, nor are they characterized by deficits; these neighborhoods have a multitude of assets that the CWRU community may not be aware of."

Delaney Jones, a recent Case alumna and the campaign's founder, told Scene that approximately 60 students attended the panel and that the initiative is being well-received on campus in the early going.

"There is clearly a big need for this type of work in a streamlined, cohesive, and dedicated way," Jones said. "The students who engaged in the event were clearly very interested in how they can take action to bridge the cultural divide between campus and local neighborhoods. However, this is an entire campus wide issue and in the future we need to go far beyond engaging 60 students. We are hoping to engage large segments of the student body in thinking about and taking action towards this initiative through collaborations with academic departments and other student groups at Case."  

Jones said she felt the campaign was vital not only for Case but for Cleveland's east side neighborhoods. As a key anchor institution, she said, Case has the power to model and influence change. The Know Your Neighbors Campaign plans to continue hosting monthly community-building events as the academic year progresses. (One fruitful discussion topic for an upcoming event might be the tensions that have emerged as a result of biased policing in the University Circle environs.)

More information can be found on the group's Facebook page.
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