Arkansas Tech recently became involved with the International Town and Gown Association to help bridge the gap in the relationship between Tech and the City of Russellville. This organization is a collaboration between students and staff along with the mayor to help the two communities begin to merge
Town and Gown is an international organization that was started at Clemson University in order to strengthen bonds between the college and the city. It has now become international after other universities around the world began seeing the positive effects.
Dr. Keegan Nichols, vice president for student affairs, was the leading individual in getting Tech involved with the Town and Gown Association. Before joining Tech, she worked at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, which had already implemented this program. After seeing the positive outcome of the ITGA with Fort Hays State, she wanted Tech to become involved.
“We want to create a space where ideas can be shared and partnerships are built,” Lindelle Fraser, assistant to the vice president of student affairs, who has also assisted with the efforts of the ITGA, said.
Some benefits have already been seen from the early collaboration. Different committees within this organization include the Student Mayoral Advisory Board, which is comprised of students from all backgrounds that come together once a month to meet with the mayor to discuss issues while creating solutions.
There is also the Tech Green and Gold on Fridays, an effort that allows students to see the staff and faculty’s pride in Tech and to also come together as a university. Tech athletics donated shirts that were then distributed to staff and faculty to help encourage participation.
“Wearing green and gold together fosters a sense of school spirit and pride,” Fraser said.
The Good Neighbor Program is yet another benefit of this program, which seeks to support off campus students. ITGA has additionally locked arms with the Student Government Association to develop a social event registration system for off campus events. The SGA plans to implement this program in the near future.
Because of this program “other campuses across the United States such as Colorado University and The University of Massachusetts at Amherst have seen a reduction in the number of citations issued to students and increase in positive relationships between students and local law enforcement,” Fraser said.
Arkansas Tech encourages students to become involved with the ITGA, Fraser said, and believe that the student body is essential to creating the connections between Tech and the Russellville community. Students looking to get involved can email Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org.