The City of San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly Student Life and Leadership and the Associated Students, Inc. collaborated to kick off the first-ever SLO Night with Your Neighbors event last Friday. The purpose of the event was to promote positive relationships among students and long-term residents of San Luis Obispo.
The city-wide celebration took place simultaneously from 6 to 8 p.m. at multiple student and San Luis Obispo residents’ homes throughout San Luis Obispo, many in old town areas adjacent to the Cal Poly campus.
“Historically, San Luis Obispo has been impacted by tension in neighborhoods between long- and short-term residents,” said Ardith Tregenza, Neighborhood Services Manager at the San Luis Obispo Police Department. “That tension can lead to ill will and a climate of mistrust and stereotyping between neighbors.”
Sponsors of the event hope that SLO Night with Your Neighbors will help ease and prevent animosity between students and San Luis Obispo residents.
“The purpose of the event is to encourage long-term and student residents to meet and interact in a positive social setting,” said Adam Serafin of Student Life and Leadership. “The goals of the program include meeting neighbors, build and establish positive communication at the beginning of the academic year, break down stereotypes, strengthen city and campus connections and set a positive tone for the community.”
“The event is a city-wide effort by San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly to help avoid future conflicts between students and San Luis Obispo residents,” said Cal Poly ASI President Brandon Souza, who hosted a party at his apartment in San Luis Obispo.
Stephan Lamb, Associate Director of Student Life and Leadership, said, “Anything to ease town tension and make a positive experience for students and residents of SLO is something that’s really important to us. We’re hoping this event would be one step toward that direction and one tangible program that might foster goodwill and communication.”
Lamb also hosted the event last Friday at his residence.
Volunteering residents registered to become a host and received party packs prior to the event that included invitations to give to their neighbors and gift bags for neighbors who attend. Hosts chose what kind of party to have, such as a potluck, barbecue, pizza or social party.
There were 17 gatherings with an estimated attendance of 400 people who registered for the event, which was held in hosts’ yards and houses, Tregenza said.
The event was modeled after a similar event, Neighbors Night Out, held by the city of Davis and UC Davis, Tregenza said. The model was introduced to the Student Community Liaison Committee and developed by members of the committee, Serafin said.
Several city council members, Cal Poly Vice President for Student Affairs Cornel Morton, Director of Government & Community Relations Stephen Harrison, along with mascots Sparky the Fire Dog, McGruff the Crime Dog and Downtown Brown visited the gatherings to meet with attendees.
The Cal Poly band, which traveled in trolley cars, also visited some of the neighborhoods to provide musical entertainment.