J.M.U. Students Working To Improve Relationships With City

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

A small group in a J.M.U. graduate class could soon be responsible for a major shift in the way the campus is viewed by the Harrisonburg public.

As part of their project, they want to break through, what they say, is an invisible wall.

"As JMU students we come into Harrisonburg and we use amenities that Harrisonburg provides," said Pratik Banjade, one of the group members. "We go out into the city, we enjoy everything that's provided to us, but we see that there might be an issue with community members coming on to campus and doing the same."

After much though, they came up with a program called "J.M.U. for Harrisonburg." They believe people are just unaware of what the campus has to offer. On Saturday afternoon, they did a beta test of the program. They took a group of 40 neighbors from all over the city were taken on a three hour tour around the campus.

"From some of the research that we've done, we've found a lot of good data that there are actually better perceptions that community members have of the university that are near by them if they feel like they're invited on campus or attend events on campus," said group member Brett Tavel.

Robert Borge, another member of J.M.U. for Harrisonburg, said there are a lot of great people on campus.

"No one is going to exclude you from anything," he said. "Everyone's really inviting and really welcoming. We want to extend that kind of warmth to the community that we're kind of planted right in the middle of. (It's like)hey you guys can come on in here too and share the love with all of us."

J.M.U. for Harrisonburg hasn't even been given a final grade, but already the offices of student and public affairs have embraced the effort.

"That was something that we really wanted to think about; how can we make this sustainable for the future," said Banjade. "Happy to hear that the university has really liked this idea and they'll be continuing this for years to come."

The next J.M.U. for Harrisonburg event will take place in March of 2013. Many of it's original founders will still be involved.

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