Oaks Neighborhood hosts its first dinner of academic year with local political leaders

Students discussed local government with Town of Elon representatives.

Students, faculty and staff had the opportunity to speak with Town of Elon leaders about local politics and political engagement at the first Oaks Neighborhood dinner of the year on Sept. 3.

Town of Elon Alderwoman Emily Sharpe, Town Clerk DiAnne Enoch and Downtown Development Administrator and Public Information Officer Kathleen Patterson were invited to engage in conversations with Oak residents.

During the meal, discussion centered on topics such as the issues facing the Town of Elon, what the aldermen do during their twice-monthly meetings, and how they view their roles as political leaders. Patterson said students should pay attention to local government because the decisions the politicians make directly impact residents.

“It’ll trickle down eventually,” Patterson said. “At the state level, it’s the same thing, but your local government, wherever you’re at, will directly impact you because it’s your property taxes and it’s your car taxes. It’s all that.”

The dinner was organized to address the topic of political engagement, one focus of the Oaks Neighborhood’s larger theme of “Emerging Adulthood”—chosen because students in the Oaks, an apartment-style community, are learning to live more independently.

“Research has shown that this generation of college students have found political leaders to be their least likely No. 1 role models, so we wanted to open our year with a dinner focused on local government,” said Colin Donohue, the faculty director for Oaks Neighborhood. “We believe hosting open, honest and respectful conversations around politics could be a start for college students to see themselves as change-makers in the political landscape.”

The Oaks Neighborhood hosts a dinner on the first Tuesday of every month during the academic year, allowing students to get together and talk about specific topics related to the neighborhood’s theme. The next dinner will occur at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Others in attendance:

  • Titch Madzima, assistant professor of exercise science
  • Aneshia Jerralds, associate director of Residence Life
  • MarQuita Barker, director of Residence Life
  • Trianne Smith, community director of the Oaks Neighborhood
  • Donohue, faculty director of the Oaks Neighborhood and School of Communications director of student engagement and alumni relations & instructor in journalism