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Reporter's Notebook

July 3, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Area colleges proud of students giving back

SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College administrators seem proud of their students' volunteerism.

While working on a story about Mayor Dick Miller's initiatives to improve town-gown relations, both colleges were quick to point out the many hours their students spend serving the community.

SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski said

students at the college would appreciate any initiatives that would improve relations between them and year-round residents.

"Into the Streets — our day of community service — is one of the most popular events on campus. Last year alone, our students volunteered over 50,000 hours through our Center for Social Responsibility and Community," Kleniewski said. "Our new strategic plan has as one of its six goals to "create and enhance community partnerships that are mutually beneficial to the college and community."

SUNY Oneonta has about 5,800 students.

Meg Nowak, Hartwick's vice president for student affairs, said students there in the 2008-09 academic year contributed 5,662 hours of community service and generated $10.3 million in direct spending to Oneonta.

"Although only 200-300 of our 1,500 students live off campus, Hartwick students certainly touch the community in many other ways as well," Nowak said. "Our Office of Civic Engagement helps ensure that our students are good citizens through civic-engagement courses, internships, community service involvement and volunteerism. They volunteer with area soup kitchens and youth centers, the Red Cross, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, the YMCA, and many other organizations."

Kleniewski and Nowak also weighed in on how they help students integrate into off-campus neighborhoods and how they handle problems that might arise.

"As far as off-campus conduct is concerned, we educate students _ and their parents _ at Orientation about their responsibilities as campus and community citizens. Our student code of conduct includes campus judicial

processes for students who violate city ordinances," Kleniewski said. "Although we receive occasional complaints from local residents, in general the comments we receive are about how much college students contribute to the vitality of the Oneonta community."

Nowak said off-campus students are held to the same code-of-conduct standards as on-campus students.

"If off-campus students are ticketed by police for an incident, they are processed through our Educational Student Conduct System. However, we also follow up whenever we receive a complaint that does not involve the police," Nowak said. "From a residential perspective, when a student is approved for off-campus housing, we provide them with a handout from the Oneonta police department that gives them information on how to be a good off-campus citizen."

Jake Palmateer can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 221, or at jpalmateer@thedailystar.com.

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