EDITORIAL: Rutgers is proving to be good neighbor
U. helps off-campus students adjust to new responsibilities
Perhaps the greatest anticipation of any Rutgers student is the thought of living off-campus. Just the possibility of living somewhere without communal bathrooms, a resident assistant and basically hundreds of other people will have students waiting with baited breath for the chance to move out. But, those who finally trek into the journey of off-campus living know that is not all smooth sailing.
As freeing as the as living off-campus is, it comes with a lot of new responsibilities and worries that students have never come into contact with. For some, this is their first apartment. And for many, this is the first time that the responsibility of rent, utilities and dealing with a landlord falls upon their own shoulders rather than their parents. This can be extremely frightening for some students and can even lead to added stress that they already have because of school. But thanks to Rutgers’ Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships Office and its new Good Neighbor Program, the stress of living off-campus can be significantly reduced.
The Good Neighbor Program was created to aid off-campus students to teach students about their rights as tenants in New Brunswick apartments and houses. Because some students are naïve about rent prices and their rights as tenants, it is possible that landlords use this information to take advantage of them. It is easy for someone who does not know much about rent or utilities to not recognize when prices are too high. But if a landlord knows that Rutgers has a whole department backing these students with legal information, it is more likely for him or her to be more careful with their contracts. If any issues arise throughout the year, students can use the department as a helping hand to guide them through any problems.
But the department’s services do not just begin and end with interactions with students’ landlords. The office also creates a sense of community between those students living off-campus. This is extremely important because oftentimes, not living in a dormitory or on-campus apartment can make one feel secluded and closed off from the rest of the Rutgers community. The department targeted this by collaborating with the City of New Brunswick to create programs that foster community with initiatives such as working to reduce the amount of litter in the city.
The department is even said to cover “faith exploration.” The office can put students in contact with religious leaders such as priests, imams, ministers and other spiritual leaders in case students feel as though they want to speak to someone affiliated with their religious faith.
On top of all of this, the department helps students struggling financially as well. It runs Rutgers Food Pantry, which helps students who face food insecurity.
Living off-campus can be both a blessing and a curse. And the Good Neighbor Program is doing everything it can to make it more of the former than the latter. Programs like this are important because they accommodate different communities at Rutgers. It makes living off-campus feel less like being sanctioned off from the rest of the University and more of an extension of the community. And with all of the stress that already comes along with school, work, internships and maintaining a social life, it is very considerate of Rutgers to try and handle students extra stress.