Off Campus UB Students Get To Know Their Neighbors

September 5, 2010 Updated Sep 5, 2010 at 11:37 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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September 5, 2010 Updated Sep 5, 2010 at 11:37 PM EDT


BUFFALO, NY

It was an invitation for students living off campus and the residents in the neighborhoods they live in to enjoy a day of good music, tasty treats, and even get autographs from UB's men in blue, "Signing some autographs handing out some schedules trying to promote the football team," said Alex Dennison, quarterback for the Bulls.

Gail Willsky is on the Board of Directors of the University Heights Collaborative.

"We're here trying to get students to come and join the organization," said Willsky.

The organization builds relationships with UB students and property owners in the neighborhoods they live in.

"The way we're doing this, one of the ways, is to promote the formation of block clubs because when the neighborhoods gets organized into block clubs it keeps the streets clean and neighbors know what's going on. There's community watches...it becomes a better place for everybody to live," added Willsky.

Law enforcement officers provided information on how students can make sure they stay safe this semester. In May of last year
23-year-old Javon Jackson was shot and killed on Main Street hours after graduating from UB. He was killed near his off campus apartment. That story hits home with students like Dominic Minor who knows how important taking common sense safety measures can be.

"People get robbed on our street a lot but that's just the simple don't walk home alone stuff like lock your doors," explained Minor.

"Most crimes you see on campus or off, are crimes of opportunity. In the cars people leave their Garmin's, their iPods, their computer, their purse unattended in the vehicle in plain view and that attracts a problem," said David Urbanek, Lieutenant with the University Police.

Another problem organizers want to prevent are fires inside homes. Organizers planned a simulated apartment bedroom fire, one with a sprinkler system installed and one without. Safety experts used an empty pizza box and a candle to light the rooms on fire, showing how quickly a blaze can spread without the right safety devices. University police say they have even beefed up security on campus,
installing more lighting and cameras which they can monitor from the campus to the streets.