Door-to-door ‘Good Neighbor’ program welcomes Iowa State students

AMES, Iowa — Before the Iowa State University academic year begins, ISU and City of Ames staff are visiting students living off-campus to talk about what it means to be a good neighbor.

Iowa State’s Office of Student Conduct and Dean of Students Office partnered with the City of Ames’ inspection division and planning and police departments in 2019 to create the Good Neighbor campaign.

Five teams of ISU and City of Ames staff walk door to door through neighborhoods near campus to build relationships with student residents and talk about hosting gatherings and understanding city ordinances and regulations.

Now in its second year (the campaign was paused in 2020 due to the pandemic), teams canvassed neighborhoods south and west of the Campustown area on Wednesday, Aug. 18, with a goal to reach approximately 250 to 300 residences. Iowa State’s first day of classes is Monday, Aug. 23.

They focus on this specific area of Ames (rather than apartment complexes or residence halls) as it includes students living in neighborhoods with a variety of Ames residents – other students, older residents, families with children, etc.

“Specifically going to off-campus neighborhoods to interact with students is not something the university has done in the past,” said Joel Hochstein, assistant director of the Office of Student Conduct. “We’re being proactive because we know students want to engage and be social, and we want them to socialize in safe ways that don’t harm themselves or others and don’t disrupt their neighborhoods.”

The goals are to educate residents and welcome them to (or back to) the neighborhood through quick conversations and totes that include a Good Neighbor guide, event planning guide, information on Iowa State’s fall COVID-19 vaccination clinics, information on City of Ames housing, inspection and fire ordinances, and information from the ISU Dean of Students Office and Office of Student Conduct.

“Our students are infused throughout many neighborhoods,” said Toyia Younger, senior vice president for student affairs. “It’s not uncommon to see two or three houses of students next to a house of a faculty member or a family.

“This is all about community and partnership. It’s another opportunity to share what it means to be part of the ISU community.”

Kurt Kruger, Ames Police Department community resource officer, says these short conversations and introductions between neighbors can make a major difference later on if issues arise.

“It’s best if we can get people back to talking to one another rather than immediately calling the police or landlord if they don’t like something their neighbor is doing,” he said. “Sure, students might be here only a few years, but we don’t think of them as just students; they’re part of our community.”