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Butler College will partner with the Pace Center for Civic Engagement in a new initiative to provide Butlerites with opportunities to become engaged with their local communities. The program, called Building Communities, aims to bring the Pace Center to the residential colleges.

Building Communities focuses on four areas of community engagement: Housing, education, arts and culture and environmental sustainability. In the coming week, Butler College will host four evening programs focusing on one or more of these issues. The programs will include documentaries and discussions with experts on the minority achievement gap.

Students will also have the opportunity to sign up for a service trip on Sept. 20 or 21. The projects will include the “Greater Donnelly Documentary,” an opportunity to help make a documentary on the lives of teenagers in the Greater Donnelly neighborhood of Trenton. Another offering will be an “International Coastal Clean Up Day,” when students will help the Sierra Club to clean up New Jersey beaches devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Butlerite Alex Bi ’17 said that he would consider participating in the program.

“I’m pretty proud to be a Butlerite and to have my residential college spearhead the effort,” Bi said.

Master of Butler College J. Nicole Shelton explained that Butler’s Building Communities program brings the efforts of the Pace Center’s Living Service Initiative closer to students by integrating them directly into residential life.

“One of the beauties of the Building Communities program is that we are helping provide services to the community but we’re also building a community at Butler,” Shelton said.

Ryan Dukeman ’17, who also said he would consider taking part in the program, noted that the program “is a good mix of community building and community service.”

Pace Center Student Program Coordinator Keira Wilson explained that the Building Communities program continues the civic engagement begun by some freshmen through Community Action, but opens the opportunity for involvement to students of all years.

Butler College and the Pace Center have assumed joint responsibility for the activities, Wilson said. She explained that Butler Residential Graduate Students have taken responsibility for the evening programs, while Pace has been instrumental in organizing the service trips with the Butler Advisory Board. In addition, 10 upperclassmen on the Building Communities Advisory Board are working with both the Butler College Office and the Pace Center, and will help to facilitate the evening discussions and service trips.

“Often times we can get stuck in the Princeton bubble and think, ‘Oh, everything’s fine and great,’” Wilson said. “That’s not entirely true 10 minutes down the road where the idea of going home for a snack is not a real one.”

Shelton noted the influence of the program on incoming freshmen, saying, “The idea is to get students thinking about service in the very beginning, and they will continue to be involved in service activities throughout the year.”

“I think it sets the tone from the very beginning, Day 1 or Week 1 of Princeton for freshmen that this is what we do,” Shelton said.

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