Good Neighbours, Strong Neighbourhoods is about having off-campus St. F.X. students integrate into the neighbourhoods where their school-year homes are located. September community barbecues, hosted by Antigonish Town and County Crime Prevention Association, have become a big part of that goal.
This year there are barbecues scheduled for Sept. 16 and 23 with one location looking like the lower-part of Pleasant Street and the second still to be confirmed.
On Aug. 23, some of the folks who will come together to help make the events happen gathered at Antigonish Town Hall.
“It’s, obviously, very valuable to us in the sense that, while our students are here and part of the St. F.X. community, by a larger sense they’re part of the Antigonish community and we want to make sure we’re fostering a relationship that is filled with respect,” St. F.X. student union’s vice-president of residence affairs, Rebecca Mesay, said.
“We’re here like guests in this community and we want to make sure we’re doing everything, with behavior and with events that are happening, to work in cohesion with the community.”
Mesay said while it can be a “little tricky” to engage with student living off-campus, there are a number of good off-campus leaders who help to make those connections.
She talked about the student union’s relationship with the community by working with community leaders, such as Antigonish Town Council and the local RCMP detachment.
“When we have a good relationship between the people of the town and university, it makes students more comfortable to get engaged with events in the community and it’s reciprocal as well, in the sense that members of the community will come to the university and see what we have to offer,” she said.
Antigonish RCMP community policing officer Cst. Morgan MacPherson said the community barbecues have been a success.
“It’s a great idea; Crime Prevention has been hosting them the last few years and it gives us an opportunity, from the RCMP perspective, to engage with the students, where we can talk to them one-on-one,” he said.
“Everyone is a lot more at ease, there is more of a comfort level and it’s great to see the students mingle with the residents of the area as well … I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”
He said it has led to less noise complaints.
“I know, when we do our work along with town bylaw, you see these areas where the barbecues are held, noise complaints have gone down dramatically,” he said.
“So the concept behind it works. A lot of time you have situations where the theory sounds great but, in the real world, it doesn’t work. But, in this situation it does; it does help, there has been a decrease.”