Matt Edwards / Asst. multimedia editor
Ohio State’s community ambassadors host regular cook-outs in different areas of the university district to promote stronger relationships amongst neighbors.
Erin Maedeker, a fifth-year in communications and co-director of the community ambassadors, said the organization hopes the increased sense of community from the cookouts will lead to safer off-campus neighborhoods.
“We hope that people will become better neighbors, watch out for each other and build a safer community,” Maedeker said.
Jeremy Dolan, a fourth-year in sociology and co-director of the community ambassadors, said the cookouts help students recognize who lives on their street and who does not.
“If you see (your neighbor) getting into a car, you don’t think twice about it,” he said. “But if you see someone that isn’t your neighbor getting into a car, you think ‘Oh I should probably call the police.'”
In addition, community ambassadors also inform students about safe ways to party.
“We act through hosting these cookouts and getting students more informed about partying smarter, knowing people at your parties so it doesn’t get out of control,” Maedeker said.
Free hamburgers, hotdogs, veggie burgers, drinks, games and sometimes entertainment are provided at the cookouts.
The community ambassadors hold the cookouts during fall and spring quarters.
“One of the main reasons we do that is people move in and out so often and they don’t have a sense of community so we try to help build that,” Maedeker said.
The residents on OSU’s off-campus area are invited to attend the cookouts on their respective streets. Occasionally, one cookout is held for two neighboring streets, such as East 17th and 18th Avenue.
Each street has a community ambassador who is responsible for hosting the event. Community ambassador is a paid position.
Logan Dawson, a fourth-year in city and regional planning and Chittenden Avenue’s community ambassador, held his street’s cookout Oct. 6. More than 150 people attended, he said.
Dawson appreciates the social aspect of the gathering.
“I think they’re a great thing to do,” he said. “If there’s free food, it’s usually a bit more inviting to people who are a little more anxious (to meet their neighbors).”
He said he also used the cookout as a way to introduce himself to his neighbors so they can approach him if they need help with issues, such as problems with landlords, roommates and neighbors. He said he can tell students where to go to find solutions.
“I can point people in the right directions,” he said. “We’re there to inform the people of all the things Ohio State has to offer. We facilitate for the university all of their services.”
Unlike Chittenden, about 60 people attend cookouts on the less-populated streets “specifically up north,” Dolan said. Although, East 12th Avenue has had more than 200 attendees in the past two years and community ambassadors are hoping to maintain this large number at the street’s cookout on Thursday.