Leaders’ Forum: University and Community Dialogue: Collaborating for Mutual Success
March 4, 2010, Views and Ideas from the Small Group Dialogues
3. What can we do, collaboratively, to increase the cultural vibrancy of London and region?
Increase Access to the Performing Arts and Music
- Western is home to one of the top music schools in Canada – use that and take that out into the community – it’s all on campus!
- Free concerts from Faculty of Music for the public – need message that this is a public institution and the public is welcome.
- Get the heads of “cultural” faculties to represent Western on boards or talk to boards and committees.
- Give the community opportunities to have access to facilities on campus.
- We need a Performing Arts Centre on campus – London is already a strong centre for the arts – hard to get info out there.
- Partner to build a Performing Arts centre in another area in the city.
- Help to support “What’s going on in London” (underground, indie music, Performing Arts Centre, The Arts Project, etc.)
Help Students become Employment-Ready
- Recognize diverse community activities.
- We tend to be limited to one-off cultural events.
- Provide festivals with more help from paid positions rather than just relying on volunteers and non-profit sector support for events.
- Make rental, parking policies more flexible.
- The University has no festivals other than Homecoming to bring us into the city and bring the city onto campus.
- The city should hold festivals when students are here rather than just in the summer.
- Physical Plant - Walking tour of campus (Idea – students to create a walking tour of campus, e.g. History students).
- Books PLUS location is a draw for community.
- Tap the London “community voice” – where we can help, what opportunities are available for students, matching of faculties and specific organizations, what type of relationship with the community does our faculty value and what works for us?
- Use “smart, knowledgeable community” umbrella to market London and region.
- Since we are all ambassadors of the University – we should also know our community and promote our community whenever we travel or have visitors.
- We all need to know the community’s “capacity” and Western’s capacity.
- The first point of contact at the university is parking asking for a large deposit. - Make Western a destination (e.g. Calgary’s Campus Fair).
- “Campus is for students only” – this is what the community thinks we are all about. This is negative publicity. We need to crash that stereotype.
- Innovation Park – is far out in “no man’s land” – put a dental/medical clinic there.
- “Doors Open” is successful – let’s do more tours of the campus.
- Hold a “London Meets Western” Week.
- Revamp the Ambassador London Program - initiative and thinking.
Attract More People to Sports and Recreation Opportunities
- The John Labatt Centre is state-of-the-art, and that’s a draw for London and region.
- Western is hosting the Special Olympics on campus this summer – do people know that?
- Varsity sports games! We need to experience this – is there a way for London to adopt Mustang football as a city team?
- What draws people to the Knights and not the Mustangs? - corporate money (not much on campus); Leafs have the fan draw, though they’re lousy, but the business is thriving since 1967.
- Make the campus more accessible to community for events (e.g. free parking on weekends) [NOTE: Western provides complimentary parking from Friday at 5 p.m. to Monday at 3 a.m. in the following lots: Springett, Medway, Elborn, and Support Services]
Increase Our Communication About Cultural Events
- Use a multi-pronged approach for advertising/reach of communication.
- Use Western’s web page to advertise Western community and other arts events – work with the Arts Council on this.
- Establish a better communications strategy to make it easier for people to find/learn about events: a communications portal for the City is already under way and includes Western and Fanshawe.
- Make students aware of the activities London has to offer.
- Waive ad fees for Western News.
- Put a community calendar on Western’s web site.
- Communication in all directions is key.
- Produce a brochure or web site about what you can do in London and around campus.
- Share “best kept secrets” about all the opportunities, using Western’s web site.
- We do a fairly good job in promoting cultural events around this area.
- Consider enhancing local tourism by having more London and surrounding “package deals” like the Toronto deals - dinner + play/musical packages, etc.
Enhance the Culture of Community
- We have other programs that bring the community to campus and the campus to the community: Western Reads [NOTE: Western Reads was re-named London Reads a few years ago to better demonstrate that it is a community program], Classes Without Quizzes; residences’ philanthropy activities.
- Support more academic collaborations/contributions to the community, e.g. the Philosophy Department’s Ethics in Action course where students tie academic learning to the real ethical dilemmas of community partners.
- Even the most academic programs can find practical application in the community that would create community-service learning opportunities (e.g. the philosophy/ethics course that is taking students into the community to work with groups like AIDS London to study issues like needle exchange programs).
- Keep in mind what is done by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities and the Faculty of Education – Internships in Chile (YMCA) building orphanages, etc.
- Expand the collaboration on charitable and other types of work between Rotary and other service clubs within London.
- Increase the number of staff, faculty and students who bring international students home for Christmas/winter holidays.
- Western employees need to know about all these opportunities and contributions so each person can be a better ambassador.
Increase Western-based Community Outreach
- Make community outreach/service part of how we promote/evaluate performance of faculty and staff.
- “Check mark” contributions to the community’s culture; put less focus on grades and more on the benefits of outreach, on going over and above requirements; this will involve changing what “counts” (i.e. getting a piece of paper vs. bettering self and community).
- Provide support for students who wish to pursue other community involvement.
- Develop recognition for talent – make it count; make opportunities, based on the student’s faculty or program, for specific involvement in a particular community organization, with a “culminating activity” at the end of the program.
- Require a volunteer component for graduation; support this with e-volunteering – find your perfect match; engage students in philanthropy.
- Continue to increase and integrate community-service learning into curriculum (i.e. RBC $2M donation that is funding).
- Need more resources to create opportunities (i.e. 300-500 applications for 150 positions in the Alternative Spring Break program).
- Western is perceived as only doing things that’s in their own interest, rather than what’s just the right thing to do – we need to do a Goodwill gesture where we partner and not just donate.
- Address the community’s literacy issues; there are some very low levels in many communities; consider how the University can help.
- Need to identify barriers to linking volunteer resources to community agencies that support literacy programs – then find solutions to those issues.
- Increase the diversity of our faculty and staff – we may not be representative of the London community.
- Student clubs/groups are incredible pools of diversity – do they match with the cultural groups in the city?
- Use the diversity of Western students, especially international students, to bring the world to London and region elementary schools; international students could volunteer and visit schools to talk about their cultures.
- London is seen as conservative/white city while it really has a lot of diversity – more refugees per capita than most cities – need to celebrate our diversity.
- A lot of the diversity is “invisible” – e.g. strong lesbian community is largely unknown for newcomers.
- Diversity is increasing in the city and at Western – we have seen a great deal of change in the number of people from visible minorities over the last several years – there is a story behind the numbers – some are starting to raise issues and now we are responding.
- Refugee Assistance Committee is a good idea.
- Draw on community diversity as an opportunity for the city and region to assist in the internationalization of Western.
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