Background and Rationale: Highlands neighbors should get to know each other. That’s the simple idea behind the Neighbor to Neighbor(N2N) program, started in fall 2010 as a result of a meeting that brought together fraternities, Highlands neighbors, and civic representatives to discuss issues of mutual interest.
The Highlands, Penn State’s neighbor to the south and home to 40 Greek fraternities, is a neighborhood which is a mix of permanent and student residents. In 2010, five Highlands families invited five fraternities to pilot a program called Neighbor to Neighbor. The program is informal, intended to simply establish neighborly contact between fraternities and residents. Each participating Highlands family serves as a contact for a specific fraternity. Family/fraternity interactions vary, depending on what they choose to do.
How the Program Works: The fraternity chapters elect leaders for January to January terms. In February, participating fraternities are asked to initiate contact with their resident partners. This contact with the fraternity is an opportunity to exchange contact information and discuss what kinds of interactions might be beneficial. Sometimes simply having a neighbor to contact is enough to start. (Examples of specific interactions are provided below.)
Participating residents gather each August to share information about the prior academic year’s interactions and discuss ways to improve the program.
In 2011, Neighbor-to-Neighbor became an official part of the Highlands Civic Association and expanded to seven fraternity participants. N2N has grown ever since. Currently during the 2016-2017 academic year, 24 fraternities participate — over half of the fraternities in the Highlands. The resident partners mirror the demographics in the Highlands neighborhood: some are long-time residents; some are single professionals; some are couples with young children.
The N2N expansion has been aided by the staff of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Penn State. In 2012, in order to spread the word about this program to the fraternities, the N2N neighborhood coordinator contacted PSU’s Director of Greek Life. After that meeting, which included an IFC representative, the IFC implemented an incentive program for fraternities to participate. Fraternities who participate enter into a Partner Agreement with their resident families and receive 20 extra points toward annual chapter accreditation.
Examples of Interaction:
- Resident partners in need of assistance with home chores have been willingly helped by their fraternity partners.
- IFC invites all partners to an annual Spring Luncheon in the Highlands
- After a particularly loud party, a fraternity contacted the N2N family to apologize to the neighborhood. This apology was communicated through the Highlands listserv.
- N2N family invited to Parents’ Day dinner at the fraternity
- N2N resident introduces a fraternity brother to a career contact
- Fraternity participants are asked to share their chapters’ histories with their partners and invite them to join in with annual IFC activities.
- Some families deliver cookies to the brothers or invite their chapters’ leadership to dinner.
As the leadership of each fraternity changes from year to year, so too, do issues and activities. As a resource, each fraternity’s Highlands family will be available year after year.
Interested in participating? Contact Peg Hambrick firstname.lastname@example.org