Oct. 7, 2004
By Marisa Long
In an effort to educate students on their rights and responsibilities when living off-campus and to address the concerns students, the community and the university have toward off-campus living, a new office within the Division of Student Affairs has been established.
The Off-Campus Living Office is responsible for coordinating services, education, events and resources to assist students living off-campus.
"We really want to ensure safety, security and success for off-campus students at Ohio University," says Jim Hintz, the newly appointed coordinator of the Office for Off-Campus Living. "To do this we need to ensure civic responsibility. Our job is to educate students on how to be responsible community members, and we want to get the community involved. We also want to build relationships and serve as a vehicle to coordinate the many efforts toward our goal and take existing resources and bring them together in a concerted effort."
Specifically, the office will provide off-campus living information to residence hall students, educate off-campus students of their civic responsibility associated with neighborhood living, offer resources on rights and responsibilities and serve as an additional liaison between the university and community regarding off-campus student living.
Judy Piercy, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and director of Student Judiciaries, says that addressing off-campus living issues has always been important to the Division of Student Affairs.
"An off-campus living office has been a goal of student affairs for a number of years," she says. "We are so pleased that it is now a reality and that the service we can provide to students will be enhanced. We also greatly appreciate the support of the university, Student Senate and the Civic Responsibility Task Force who endorsed the development of the office."
Hintz hopes to get students involved by creating the Off-Campus Living Advisory Council, which will include students and individuals from Athens and the university, to provide feedback on programs, generate new ideas and help spread the message of the services offered by the office. He says that students will be important to the continued development of the office in many capacities.
"We want to keep students involved as much as possible," he says. "By establishing the advisory council, soliciting student volunteers and developing ways to get students together in an informal setting to talk about issues in their neighborhoods, we hope to create a connection between the city and students and keep students interested."
Senior Kristin Mazgaj, who serves as the off-campus living commissioner for Ohio University Student Senate, hopes that students and their opinions are central to the new office.
"I hope that students play a big role in what happens in the off-campus living office because students are the ones who know first hand what it is like to deal with off-campus issues and are the most affected by them," she says. "I also hope that students really use the resources that will be available from the office and that there is communication between the university and city officials."
The Off-Campus Housing Office is housed in Baker Center 204. An Off-Campus Living Web site is currently being developed.
Marisa Long is a writer with University Communications and Marketing.