Arts

New residence ‘bridging the gap’ with surrounding neighbourhood

Photo by Marta Kierkus

Children from Sandy Hill got a special treat when they visited the new student residence at 240 Friel St. this Halloween.

Residents decorated a haunted house in a joint initiative from the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Global and Community Engagement and Housing Service.

The Haunted House featured jack-o-lanterns, guessing games for children, along with the main maze where each participant walked through in a dimly lit room, while being spooked and scared by volunteers in Halloween costumes.

Kristina Blundon, a placement officer at the Centre for Global and Community Engagement, said the two organizations are using the new residence as a pilot project to get students engaged in the surrounding community.

“It helps students coming from across Canada and the world create social networks, learn about what’s happening around them, and develop new skills,” she said.

Twelve volunteers from the residence and five from the centre worked the haunted house, which greeted 60 children from the surrounding community.

“The kids were ecstatic to be welcomed and enjoyed the festivities of the occasion,” said Blundon.

The 400-student Friel residence opened in September as the first off-campus U of O residence. Residence coordinator Carine Bélanger said feedback from students about the new roost has been positive.

“It’s off-campus, but it doesn’t feel like it,” she said.

Residents who have volunteered at previous events continue to sign up for future ones, said Bélanger. Friel resident and volunteer Kelsey Sutton, a first-year criminology student, said she’s glad the residence offers volunteering opportunities.

“It gets students involved, and I like to volunteer,” she said. “It also makes it easier to meet new people, since it’s harder as a first-year.”

This is the latest community event held at the new student residence, which hosted a barbeque in September and a bake sale for local children on Oct. 26. The events are considered a way to improve community relations.

“We talk about that a lot,” said Blundon. “We know that interactions between students and the community are not always great.” She said these types of events can help “bridge the gap” between students and the surrounding community.