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as a college town

             

Kristen  Tringali   December  1st,  2013   Professor  Abraham   SOC  181  


Introduction

I am   a   current   Sociology   student   at   Hofstra   University,   and   I   see   myself   as   the  

perfect candidate  to  conduct  this  project.  Currently,  I  am  a  member  of  both  publics  that  I   will  be  discussing  within  this  study,  being  a  student  at  the  University,  as  well  as  a  resident   of   Uniondale.   In   addition,   I   am   also   a   member   of   both   partnering   groups   which   will   allow   for   easier   and   more   effective   cooperation.   This   allows   me   to   see   both   sides   and   the   inherent   successes   that   will   come   from   the   conjoining   of   the   school   and   it’s   local   area.   From   an   academic   perspective,   I   have   taken   a   wide   range   of   courses,   including   social   problems,  sociology  statistics,  public  sociology,  sociological  research  methods,  as  well  as   many   others.   Through   these   courses,   I   have   learned   not   only   pertinent   information   relative   to   their   respective   subjects,   I   have   also   acquired   skills   that   would   help   me   to   design  and  facilitate  this  project  effectively.     Hofstra   is   immediately   surrounded   by   two   towns;   the   villages   of   Hempstead   and   Uniondale.   Each   of   these   loci   function   almost   completely   independently   of   each   other,   perpetuating   inequalities,   as   well   as   leading   to   many   other   negative   implications   for   all   parties  involved.  From  this  relative  isolation  comes  the  seedling  for  this  public  sociology   project:  a  theory  of  inclusion  rather  than  exclusion.  The  ultimate  goal  of  this  project  is  to   create  a  vibrant  community  by  shifting  the  physical  locale  to  an  intricate  social  fabric.   In   order   to   do   this,   there   needs   to   be   a   large   level   of   cooperation   between   the   publics  of  the  University  and  the  town.  There  are  several  specific  objectives  that  I  would   like   to   achieve   before   reaching   my   ultimate   goal.   First,   I   must   preform   a   literature   review   to  find  studies  that  have  previously  been  preformed  and  to  learn  from  their  experiences.   Next,   I   will   obtain   community   and   university   opinions   using   the   survey   method.   I   will  

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code the   results   and   interpret   them   into   an   effective   plan   to   help   us   to   achieve   the   ultimate  goal  of  interdependence  between  both  publics.     Code  results   and  draw   conclusions   speci`ic  to   our  locale  

Review literature  

Obtain community   and   university   attitudes  

Measure results  

Create an  inter-­‐ dependence   between   community  and   university  

Literature Review

The social   exchange   theory   is   an   important   one   to   consider   during   this   project.  

Defined in  1958  by  George  Homans,  he  states  that  the  exchange  of  activity  between  two   persons   has   many   dimensions.   In   this   project,   there   will   be   many   different   levels   of   social   exchange.  It  will  be  important  during  this  project  to  be  mindful  and  to  always  keep  each   group’s  ideas  in  mind  in  order  to  facilitate  a  favorable  social  exchange.   Hofstra  is  not  seen  as  a  college  town,  and  the  students  suffer  from  this.  Hofstra’s   one  year  retention  rate  is  78%,  meanwhile  Ithica  State  college,  which  features  a  fantastic   college  town,  has  a  retention  rate  of  83.4%.  Residents  of  Uniondale  have  a  relatively  low   average  income,  (around  $30,000  annually)  possibly  from  the  lack  of  business  that  local   shops  have  to  endure.   A  study  conducted  in  2010  by  Elvira  Ciognani,  Isabel  Menezes,  and  Gli  Nata  found   that  “the  physical  environment  where  we  live  has  an  important  role  in  creating  a  sense  of   meaning,   order   and   stability   in   our   lives.   A   sense   of   the   place   in   which   we   live   is   often   related   to   our   sense   of   personal   identity   since   much   of   what   we   are   depends   upon   where    

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we live   and   the   experiences   we   had   there.”   This   study   highlights   the   importance   of   a   community   feeling   for   adolescents.   It   compares   the   feelings   of   those   who   already   have   lived   in   this   college   town   setting   to   students   to   migrated   there   in   order   to   further   their   studies.   This   study,   preformed   in   Portugal,   attempted   to   qualify   the   student’s   sense   of   belonging   in   the   University   community.   There   were   three   scales   that   respondents   were   asked   to   comment   on.   Firstly   was   place   identity,   a   term   that   is   the   agreement   with   the   thought:  “I  would  rather  live  in  a  different  town.  This  is  not  the  place  for  me.”  Between  the   normal  four  years  that  one  attends  university,  natives  tended  to  agree  with  this  statement   more  as  time  transpired,  while  migrating  students  tended  to  disagree  more  over  time.  The   second   scale   was   based   on   the   sense   of   community   in   the   area,   and   the   last   scale   was   opportunities   for   influence.   Both   scales   follow   a   similar   pattern   for   natives,   as   both   increased   as   time   passed.   Migrating   students   either   remained   the   same   or   declined,   respectively.      

Research

For this   project,   I   would   partner   with   the   university   through   Hofstra’s   center   for  

Civic Engagement,   and   the   community   through   the   Greater   Uniondale   Area   Action   Coalition   (GUAAC).   Both   groups   will   be   invaluable   assets   that   will   allow   for   me   to   be   able   to   reach   the   communities   that   I   need   in   order   to   achieve   the   ultimate   goal.   Funding   for   this   project   would   be   provided   for   by   both   groups,   although   the   amount   of   funding   needed  will  be  a  rather  small  number,  providing  only  for  the  production  and  distribution   of   the   survey   instrument,   and   people   like   myself   to   analyze   the   data.   Most   of   the   work  

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done for  this  project  will  be  on  a  volunteer  basis  in  order  to  keep  costs  low  and  to  allow   for  the  sustainability  of  the  project.   The   methodology   that   would   be   best   suited   for   this   project   is   the   survey   method.   I   will   randomly   select   65%   of   homes   and   apartments   in   Uniondale   and   Hempstead,   as   well   as  65%  of  “at  school”  addresses  for  students  to  achieve  a  random  sample.  The  survey  that   will  be  sent  out  will  include  a  variety  of  questions  measuring  the  attitudes  and  opinions  of   the  individual  concerning  university-­‐community  relations.  These  surveys  will  be  used  as  a   tool  to  establish  the  effects  of  the  project  after  its  completion.   Compiling   the   mission   and   vision   statements   from   our   partners   will   help   to   create   a   solidified   action   that   will   satisfy   both   the   community   and   the   university,   and   to   ultimately   allow   for   a   more   positive   social   exchange.   In   a   press   release   from   President   Rabinowitz,  he  discusses  his  intention  to  create  a  college  town  right  on  or  near  campus.   Restaurants  and  retail  are  the  main  ideas  that  would  be  implemented,  and  he  claims  that   this  “would  provide  our  community  with  a  number  of  options  and  provide  students  with   entertainment   right   here   on   campus.”   Uniondale   also   has   a   similar   statement   of   their   goals.  They  call  this  document  the  Uniondale  Visioning  Plan  and  there  are  several  items   on   this   list   that   can   be   satisfied   through   this   project.   The   bullet   point   titled   “Marketing   Uniondale   as   a   Global   Village   and   College   town”   would   be   satisfied   through   the   conjunction   of   our   efforts.   Another   point   on   their   action   items   list   is   to   attract   and   enhance   economic   development   in   Uniondale.   With   the   full   implementation   of   my   integration  project,  local  businesses  would  experience  a  large  increase  in  sales,  and  this   would  allow  for  more  new  businesses  to  crop  up.    

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Action  

The action  part  of  this  project  involves  many  more  partners.  For  this  stage  in  the  

project, we   will   pair   with   Hofstra   card   services,   as   well   as   local   food   establishments.   In   order  to  achieve  the  project’s  objective,  I  would  like  to  introduce  an  off-­‐campus  meal  plan   to   start   integrating   the   two   publics.   I   will   travel   to   each   local   business   and   ask   if   they   would  like  to  be  included  in  this  project.  Those  who  reply  favorably  will  be  included  in  a   list   which   would   be   compiled   for   students.   The   other   members   of   my   volunteer   team   would   then   submit   this   list   to   Hofstra’s   card   services,   who   would   facilitate   for   campus   money,  called  “dutch  debits”  to  be  accepted  at  locations  off  campus.    

Its as   simple   as   that.   Many   students   patronize   these   businesses   already,   but   they  

represent a  small  subset  of  Hofstra’s  student  body.  This  brings  me  to  the  next  stage  in  the   action   section:   advertising.   In   order   to   make   this   integration   project   effective,   students   must   be   aware   of   it.   Hofstra   card   services   can   send   out   an   e-­‐mail   informing   students,   and   myself  as  well  as  other  CCE  interns  will  create  signage  to  put  around  campus.    

 

Conclusion

Seeing the   implications   and   results   of   this   study   will   be   relatively   easy.   After   a  

semester has  transpired  with  the  integrated  meal  plan,  I  will  conduct  a  follow  up  survey,   in   order   to   establish   progress   and   the   effectiveness   of   the   initiative’s   efforts.   But   this   is   just  the  beginning  in  creating  a  more  global  town  and  integrating  the  student  body  within   the   community   and   vice   versa.   The   survey   will   show   community   and   university   attitudes,   and  we  will  supplement  that  knowledge  in  conjunction  with  a  comparison  of  off-­‐campus  

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sales and   student   integration.   Both   of   these   factors   will   allow   this   study   to   be   a   great   model  for  future  projects  of  the  same  nature.     This   study   will   benefit   the   community   and   the   university   tremendously.   Interactions   between   the   two   will   be   symbiotic,   and   will   demonstrate   many     admirable   qualities   that   others   will   want   to   be   a   part   of.   The   community   and   student   body   can   work   together  to  accomplish  other  goals,  and  this  empowerment  from  a  sheer  linkage  can  make   a   huge   difference   in   the   future.   Freshman   retention   rates   will   go   up   in   the   school,   local   employees   will   get   raises   and   more   jobs   will   be   created   to   match   the   new   demands   of   the   otherwise   untapped   buying   power.   Families   can   give   their   dependents   money   in   a   safe   manner   through   the   form   of   the   Hofstra   Card,   and   know   that   their   son   or   daughter   is   eating   nutritiously.   The   influx   of   consumers   into   the   surrounding   areas   will   reawaken   local   businesses   and   breathe   a   fresh   breath   of   life   into   the   town.   The   university   will   in   turn   experience   higher   student   retention   rates,   as   well   as   a   happier   and   more   prideful   campus.  Hopefully,  this  linking  of  research  and  action  will  encourage  universities  across   the   world   to   incorporate   their   surrounding   areas   in   the   learning   experience   as   well   as   creating  a  new  cultural  melting  pot  with  benefits  to  be  had  by  all.                  

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Works Cited       Cicognani,  Elvira,  Isabel  Menezes,  and  Gil  Nata.  "University  Students’  Sense  of  Belonging    

to the  Home  Town:  The  Role  of  Residential  Mobility."  Social  Indicators  Research     104.1  (2011):  33-­‐45.  Print.   "Hofstra  University."  Long  Island,  New  York  Private  College.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  01  Dec.  2013.   Implementing  Specific  Uniondale  Visioning  Plan  Action  Items.  11  Oct.  2013.  Uniondale.   "Ithaca  College."  ,  Ithaca,  NY.  N.p.,  n.d.  Web.  01  Dec.  2013.   Rabinowitz,  Stuart.  "A  Message  from  President  Rabinowitz."  Message  to  the  author.  7  Oct.     2013.  E-­‐mail.   "Social  Exchange  Theory."  Wikipedia.  Wikimedia  Foundation,  12  Jan.  2013.  Web.  03  Dec.     2013.   Uniondale,  New  York."  Wikipedia.  Wikimedia  Foundation,  12  Jan.  2013.  Web.  03  Dec.     2013.  

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Hofstra As A College Town  

Final paper for my internship, evaluating the perspectives, gains, and losses of a more integrated collegiate-local experience.

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