Community Relations Blog

Happy 2017!

Happy New Year from all of us in the UMass Amherst Office of External Relations!

It's a chilly start to the New Year, but things will soon warm up both in the office and outside. Temps this week are supposed to shoot up from their near zero degree temps to the 50s. In the office, we're using this time for catch-up and 2017 planning. While we're not an academic department, the rhythms of the school year are felt in the administrative departments, as well, and we're enjoying the quiet as we're able to do our 'busywork' before the semester gets underway.

UMACC Hits the Road

The UMass Amherst Community Campaign (UMACC) launched on September 26 with a kick-off event and Charity Fair. Almost 200 people attended the event, which included live music, refreshments, representatives from over 30 local nonprofit organizations, and one cat.

As of November 1, we have raised $136,000 from 238 people, which is about 32% of our goal to raise $430,000 for nonprofit organizations this year.

Continued Coverage of CCC Town Hall

We've been happy to see continued coverage fo the CCC Town Hall event from Tuesday, October 18. The most recent was an  op-ed from the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Friday, October 28.

While we appreciate the continued attention, we do take exception to a quippy aside from the Editorial team: "First, they may want to keep the group’s name off promotional materials related to entertainment events they cook up. No offense to the coalition’s hard-working members, but we suspect students see something inherently disapproving in the group’s name." Really? Come on! This hurts our feelings!

Actually, we're not at all bothered. We had a nice complement of students who came to offer their ideas on what would make for a fun  all-ages friendly nightlife in the Amherst area. And judging by our survey responses thus far, we know that we've hit a chord with a good group of folks who are most excited by increased off-campus student involvement in and near commercial areas.

Campus Early Voting a Town-Gown Win

Early voting comes to the UMass Amherst campus today, October 25. It is one of four early voting opportunities for students on campus in this 2016 election season. Complete information is in the News tab of the site.

Efforts to bring voting back to campus have intensified this year with some student groups lobbying the town for a new voting precinct. As recently as 2005, UMass Amherst had a sub-precinct funded by the Student Government Association. As the costs for that arrangement with the town were prohibitive, the SGA asked for its dissolution. Since then, students registered to vote in Amherst have had to venture off-campus to the ballot box.  

Creative Thinking About Nightlife

This past Tuesday, October 18, the Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High-Risk Drinking held a town hall style meeting at the new, nearly open, and fabulous AmherstWorks in downtown. The event, "Envisioning a Safe and Vibrant Nightlife Locally: It's Your Turn to Speak Up!" was funded by a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration or SAMHSA as part of their Communities Talk series on prevent underage drinking.

The event was divided into 3 components - a panel, breakout sessions, and an open discussion among the 40 or so in attendance. Moderated by former Amherst Select Board chair and past CCC member, Stephanie O'Keefe, the panel included Anthony Vitale, UMass Amherst Student Government Association president; Sarah la Cour, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District; George Myers, general manager of both the Amherst Cinema and The Quarters in Hadley; and Sally Linowski, Associate Dean of Off-Campus Student Life and Community Education.

Amherst Center Cultural District

The Office of External Relations is a proud member of the recently launched Amherst Center Cultural District. The district, which overlays a majority of the Amherst Business Improvement District, includes many local cultural treasures, including the Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst History Museum, Amherst Cinema, and the Jones Library. The cultural district designation was made in a May vote by the board of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Amherst is one of 34-state designated cultural districts.

The designation allows Amherst access to state resources, including statewide and national marketing opportunities, programs for developing cultural economic development strategies, and cultural facilities planning and construction.

 

A Mid-Semester Update!

Blogs are supposed to be updated. Frequently. If you're keeping score at home, we've been a bit behind. We're going to catch up. Promise.

We're nearly mid-semester here on campus and it's been a busy stretch here the Office of External Relations. Here are some updates:

Serious Fun and Games

While most of my work is on the serious side, involving meetings with the local community and with students and neighbors, sometimes it can be fun and games. Recently, I teamed up with representatives from Amherst Police, UMass Police and the Dean of Students to take on the SGA "Grit 'n Wit" event, a fundraiser for the Student Veteran Resource Center.  We had a great day for the race with dozens of teams, and even if our team's time did not put us on the podium, it was definitely a win for the SVRC!

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