One new Ohio State initiate is working to blur the borders between campus and the City of Columbus for first-year students.
That initiative — the Columbus Ambassador program — aims to help show first-year students what all Columbus has to offer.
The program, which premiered in August through the Office of Student Life, was a way to further the Columbus Welcome Week Event, said Tracy Stuck, assistant vice president of Student Life.
The Columbus Welcome Event was held Aug. 25 at Nationwide Area. Nearly 7,000 incoming OSU freshman learned about the city from speakers like Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman during the event.
Although future expenses are unknown, Stuck said the program has cost $16,000 so far. That the amount includes the cost of training, transportation and supplies, she said.
This year, resident hall advisors will be the first Columbus ambassadors.
Stuck said RAs were selected because they have direct access to first-year students in the residence halls. She said the goal is that through the training, RAs will be able to encourage students to explore the city.
Over 300 RAs were trained via a Cermen website, she said. Trainees experienced 23 sites around Columbus and received in-person training as well.
RAs visited palces like WBNS-10TV, the Longaberger company headquarters and Easton Town Center, she said.
Jonathan Robinson, a second-year in environmental public health, said his group went to Historic Dublin to explore the area’s unique history and paranormal activity.
Robinson said the experience gave him a better picture of Columbus than he had before.
“(The program) has allowed me to understand all the things Columbus has to offer,” he said.
Alexa Norris, a fourth-year in speech and hearing science and RA for the Bradley/Paterson Complex, said she hoped to show students that Columbus was home to much more beyond OSU.
For the future, Robinson and Norris agreed that RAs would benefit both from more training and experiencing more locations around the Columbus area.
Robinson also said he hopes RAs will be able to choose the locations they experience next year.
Ultimately, though, he believes the Columbus Ambassador program will benefit students. “It’s important to explore locations so you have a well-rounded experience,” he said.
Stuck said many students have told her that, for a variety of reasons, they haven’t really gone off-campus. She said this program is designed to change that.
“My hope is that the Columbus Ambassadors program empowers students to feel like Columbus is their city. Ohio State’s motto is ‘Education for Citizenship’ and I think the heart of this program is aligned with that mission of learning while being an active participant in a community,” Stuck said.
The program coordinators plan on having RAs lead group outings and having a second phase of the program in the spring.