Wichita State University Neighborhood Group Works on Safety and Diversity
Wichita State University’s Shocker Neighborhood Coalition (SNC) is made up of the university’s faculty, staff, and students.
The SNC serves to help students and the entire community as a support group and as a venue to use their talents and knowledge to address and solve real-world problems and concerns.
The group helps the university come up with solutions to issues on: law enforcement, health, community relations, social concerns, education, economic development, and even infrastructure.
Public and Private Safety
Currently, the Shocker Neighborhood Coalition is working with the Fairmount neighborhood residents to build a safe environment around the campus.
The country will remember that Fairmount Park witnessed a tragedy one year and a few months ago, when 36-year-old Letitia Davis was attacked and set on fire at Wichita’s park.
The incident left the entire community shocked and shattered.
It also paved the way for the formation of the SNC, which began working with the community to address safety.
Ted Ayres, director of Community Engagement and Opportunity said,
“We want to let the neighborhood people know that we care and we’re interested and we have resources.”
In May last year, the SNC had received a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, which the group and the community plan to use for the programs they want to accomplish in three years.
The group decided to focus their efforts on safety.
Wichita University’s community liaison, Darryl Carrington said,
“A person has to feel safe before they can enjoy their community. Sometimes it’s not the lack of safety, it’s the perceived lack of safety that makes people feel unsafe.”
Just this June 14, a young woman was found murdered in Fairmont Park. The victim had multiple stab wounds all over her body, with one gunshot to the back of her head.
Fairmount Park has seen many terrible crimes in over a decade, and this just drives home the fact that public and private safety are a large concern for the community.
Diversity in the Community
Carrington, in order to revive the community and dispel the fear, worked alongside community members to organize park events to bring people together.
It was during his programs working with the community that Carrington realized their diversity.
There is significant diversity in age, race, and economic backgrounds in the neighborhood.
Already, the tennis court has been replaced with a multi-functional court so that international students can play “futsal”, a kind of soccer game popular among them.
Part of the Shocker Neighborhood Coalition’s plans involves providing a survey for the residents to take.
The survey aims to discover the residents’ needs so that new shops and areas can be developed, to make the neighborhood something that belongs to the community as one.
On the community inside a college campus, Carrington said,
“It’s a wonderful thing to live in a college community. We have this dichotomy that we can really take advantage of.”
When the three-year grant from the Kansas Health Foundation ends, Ayres said that the group would be targeting the other surrounding areas.
The director said,
“It’s the university, the city and the neighborhood, and everyone is doing the right thing so it’s very powerful.”