Rutgers Off-Campus Living & Community Partnerships formally opens new office with ribbon-cutting ceremony
A new office off the College Avenue campus is dedicated to helping off-campus students secure housing while staying protected from predatory practices.
The Off-Campus Living & Community Partnerships, which was started last fall, just opened its new office at 39 Union St., New Brunswick. The office will serve as a hub for students interested in living, or who already live off-campus, said Kerri Wilson, director of the office.
“The office has three main areas of focus: The main is to assist students who live off campus or are looking to live off campus,” she said. “The two other areas include working with our faith-based student organizations on campus and the multi-faith council, and also … facilitating opportunities for all students to get involved in community service.”
The facility was formally opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Monday afternoon rain.
New Brunswick and Rutgers have an excellent working relationship, said Chancellor Richard L. Edwards during his public remarks. He thanked Mayor James Cahill for his help with this relationship during his speech.
Creating the office has been a work-in-progress for a while, he said.
The city can provide the government assistance that the office can use to fulfill its mission, Cahill said. It can also help the students directly by letting them know when public utilities will arrive to pick up garbage and other related information.
Part of the office’s mission would include helping students understand their leases and making sure they do not violate any ordinances, Wilson said.
“Just as an example, in New Brunswick there’s a rent control law, so there’s a certain number of people a house is zoned for and there’s a threshold for how high the rent can be,” she said. “So (part of our job) is having them understand how much the rent control is, what the number of people who can live in the house is … having the landlord provide that information.”
Students may not be aware of something as simple as knowing whether the landlord or the lessee is responsible for shoveling snow, she said.
They can also let students know about their public responsibilities, Wilson said.
All off-campus students can visit the office for assistance, she said. The program caters to all members of Rutgers—New Brunswick.
“If there’s a concern that (the students) have, we’ll help unpack that concern and find out who best can help them,” she said. “So sometimes we’ll refer people to legal services, sometimes it’ll be based on the municipality of where they live.”
Students can contact the office via email, through their Facebook page or by visiting when the building is open, Wilson said. There are facilities for students who just want to work on assignments or study as well.
Beyond assisting students find housing, the office is working with New Brunswick and the Rutgers University Police Department on security initiatives, including the Knight’s Watch, which was announced in February.
“We’re really friendly,” Wilson said. “We’re here to help, we’re here to make sure (students are) okay and we’re going to help them do (well).”
Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.