Card idea may help town-gown relations

Seton Hall’s Department of Community Relations is developing ways to bring the university and South Orange together into one single, cohesive community.

Adam Loehner, director of Community Relations will propose a “Community Card” program to the University Administration and various department.

The “Community Card” program would allow South Orange residents to take advantage of certain university resources, which could involve access to campus and the ability to check out books from the library.

The program, however is in early planning stages and Loehner has yet to meet with the university’s administration and various departments to determine the program’s feasibility.
Loehner said that a lot of what community members feel they are missing is actually available to them, but they have no physical connection to Seton Hall.

“They can come onto campus and shop in our bookstore, eat in our cafe, and browse the library,” Loehner said. “Technically, we aren’t a closed campus.”

Loehner said that he hopes the Community Cards would make it easier for members of the community to come onto campus without having to sign in and out frequently.

Before the cards could be used to swipe onto campus, Loehner said he would need to meet with the Department of Public Safety to determine if access to campus through the pedestrian gates would be feasible and if access would need to be restricted to certain hours.

Students, however, wonder if the community card is a good idea, citing potential security problems and saying they keep pedestrian gate access limited for safety purposes.

“Do they really need it?” sophomore Rachel Rosenstrock asked. “When they come in, they can come in the front gate; it’s an unnecessary idea that could expose Seton Hall to increased security problems.”

The cards would also allow the university to track which type of events held on campus appeal to community members.

Many events already have students swipe in to collect priority points for their attendance.

Junior Matthew DiCarlo said that the cards are going to be more trouble than they are worth, especially if they only end up being used to give South Orange residents access to campus for events.

“If they were going to offer more than just the events, then I would consider it more,” DiCarlo said.

The cards could potentially be used to expand other campus programs and resources.

However, Loehner did say, students come first.

“Allowing residents to check out books is a possibility,” Loehner said, noting he would have to consult with the Deans of the Libraries before a decision could be made. “Students come first, and we don’t want to take anything away from them.”

Loehner said the Community Card program would be based upon the interests and desires of members of the South Orange Community while balancing the requirements of the student body.

Before he can figure out what campus facilities, resources and programs would be included in the card, he would have to see what the needs, interests and desires of the community are.

In order to do that, Loehner mentioned using the Neighbor’s Community Group as pilot group to test the program.

The Neighbors are a group of over 75 South Orange and Maplewood residents who attended a series of meetings to discuss news and information relevant to the Seton Hall-South Orange-Maplewood communities.

Brenden Higashi can be reached at brenden.higashi@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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