ASG leaders were “pleasantly surprised” by the turnout for the first-ever ASG Housing Fair Wednesday afternoon, which broke ground as one in a series of several programs aimed at aiding students moving off-campus. Almost 250 students visited Norris’s Louis Room for information from nine Evanston landlords and apartment brokers, along with various campus offices.
ASG Community Relations Vice President Steven Monacelli, who planned the event, said his aim was to provide an official slate of information for students that has never been provided by the university before. Nearly 80 percent of students, he said, get information about housing from other students. (Full disclosure: Monacelli also serves as NBN’s Assistant Politics Editor. He opines on national issues.)
Attendance at Wednesday’s fair seemed to be an indication for students’ desire for change. Nearly 100 students visited within the first 15 minutes.
Notably absent from the fair were officials from Evanston, who declined Monacelli’s invitation to come and provide city information. The fair was also absent of any direct reference to the three-unrelated rule, which legally remains in full effect. Monacelli, a Communication junior, hopes to land a seat on the Evanston sub-committee that will review the law and has Northwestern’s full administrative support. In fact, the Office of Student Affairs wrote the city directly to encourage officials to include Monacelli as a vital student voice in the group.
In this context, the Housing Fair is one of the first steps in what will become a more concerted effort by ASG and Northwestern administrators to provide resources and programs for off-campus students. The university recently appointed Tony Kirchmeier as Off-Campus Director, a largely unpublicized but significant move towards the creation of a fully functioning Off-Campus Office, which has been an ASG priority for at least three years.
Kirchmeier, who will report to Dean of Students Burgie Howard, will share responsibilities with Assistant Dean of Students Betsi Burns, who previously handled all matters related to Northwestern’s 3,800 off-campus students alone, in addition to a slew of other duties.
Kirchmeier comes to Northwestern from Southern Illinois University with his wife, Julie, the newly appointed Vice President of Student Auxiliary Services. He says the intensified focus on off-campus life is a growing phenomenon at college campuses and his position in general, but specifically at Northwestern, is by all means unprecedented.
Dean Burns said she and Kirchmeier are personally committed to building partnerships beyond the City of Evanston with landlords and others to better provide for students.
The goal, she said, is to equip students with the assets they need to make the well-informed decisions necessary for surviving off-campus life in Evanston.
NBN welcomes Matt Bellassai, former ASG Presidential candidate and Public Relations Vice President, as Special ASG Correspondent this quarter. Please see our note on his coverage.