by Katie Heneghan & Maria Thomas, Asst. Features Editor & Asst. News Editor
The Neighborhood Relations Committee held their fourth annual luncheon for Riverdale
residents surrounding campus, students and administrators on Feb. 18 in Kelly Commons. The goal of the annual event is to foster a positive relationship with the surrounding residents of the Riverdale community.
Sophomore Marshall Strawbridge serves as the NRC chairperson and planned the event with assistance from Student Body President Jaycie Cooper; John Bennett, director of student engagement and Michael Steele, the assistant director of student engagement. The Neighborhood Relations Committee falls as a subcommittee under the Student Government Assembly.
The NRC, which is in its fourth year servicing both the Riverdale community and the
students of Manhattan College, was originally founded by Ryan Quattromani ’18 in his sophomore year. This year, Strawbridge took over as committee chairperson.
With a new head of the Neighborhood Relations Committee came a new mission:
Strawbridge said, “This year I focused on communicating to the neighbors the ways
in which the committee plans on further pursuing its mission. These include better
communication regarding events that neighbors can take part in, connecting project leaders in the neighborhood to MC students who might be interested in volunteering and making MC spaces and facilities available to our community.”
The luncheon, which began at 11 a.m. on President’s Day, a day which many community members had off from work, started with a speech by Cooper.
Cooper wanted the neighbors present to learn that having a college in the neighborhood does not have to be stigmatized.
“Like any healthy relationship, there must be a balance of give and take and because of this, Student Government is working to create opportunities for our neighbors to enjoy the benefits of having a college campus close by,” said Cooper.
In her speech, Cooper shared her belief that the efforts of the NRC are reflective of the core mission of Manhattan College.
Cooper said, “Concern for the poor and social justice, respect for all persons and fostering an inclusive environment are the values our students hope to reflect in the community. Our hope for this luncheon is that we are able to facilitate discussions that focus not only on the improvement of our relationship with one another but more importantly, the improvement of the beautiful community we call home.”
Following Cooper’s opening address was a discussion facilitated by the Vice President of Student Life, Richard Satterlee, Ph.D.
By facilitating a discussion between the residents of Riverdale and students and faculty of the college, Dr. Satterlee opened the floor for discussion of any community tribulations. In discussing the relationship the school has with the surrounding area, the college is hoping to identify any areas of issue and resolve them with the community members.
Large and small group discussions took place.
Bennett said, “Many smaller conversations took place at each table, which was really the purpose too, to be a nice gathering and discussion.”
The event was attended by approximately 50 students, faculty and community members. Local residents were notified of the event using social media, word of mouth, and flyers throughout the community. Students were notified through social media, flyers and MC Announcement emails.
“The turnout was great and the room was packed in terms of student and faculty turnout,” said Steele in an email statement. “When comparing each group, the ratio was just about even which was great”.
For future Neighborhood Relations Committee events, a goal is to increase student turnout. This would help to further the initiatives of the committee, and ultimately, create a more inclusive environment between students and the residents of Riverdale.
“The more students we have, the more potential the luncheon has to further the committee’s mission”, said Strawbridge. “I believe this event will only get bigger and stronger as the years go by based on the results and feedback we received from the attendees each year of its existence.”