as a college town
Kristen Tringali December 1st, 2013 Professor Abraham SOC 181
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
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
Obtain community and university attitudes
Create an inter-‐ dependence between community and university
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.