About 75 Cornell students and staff, Ithaca city officials, and Collegetown/Belle Sherman residents and business owners shared dinner, personal backgrounds and their perspectives on Collegetown at the fourth annual BEAR (Being Engaged and Responsible) Walk, Aug. 17, at St. Luke’s Fellowship Hall.
“The BEAR Walk helps promote good-neighbor relationships prior to the first weekend of heightened social activity during the school year,” said Julie Paige, director of the Office of Off-Campus, Cooperative and Graduate Living and chair of the BEAR Walk committee. The committee comprises Cornell University Police and other staff, students, Collegetown business owners and city of Ithaca staff. This year’s walk was specifically designed to help participants get to know each other.
Noting that living in Collegetown should not just be a “stopover” for students while they complete their education, said Ryan Lombardi, Cornell vice president for student and campus life: “This actually is your home and I hope you will treat it as so.” When students, staff, faculty and others make Collegetown their home, they do so with the “full knowledge and appreciation” that Ithaca is a college town, and they want that to be part of their experience, Lombardi said. “We want to make sure we have a healthy, robust and positive relationship [with each other],” he said.
Also speaking at the dinner was Stephen Smith, Ithaca Common Council representative for the 4th Ward. Smith talked about the construction underway and acknowledged that the transition Collegetown now is undergoing creates difficulties for those living here. But, he said, five or six years from now, when the current seniors return to campus for reunion, they will see a Collegetown that is thriving, with a professional workforce frequenting restaurants and stores; more student activities; and “spaces that people can call their own.”
After dinner, BEAR Walk participants fanned out in teams to distribute health and safety information to student and local neighbors in the Collegetown and Belle Sherman areas.
The BEAR Walk was sponsored by Off-Campus, Cooperative and Graduate Living; University Relations; and the City and Local Affairs Committee of Student Assembly.