Finding Community Outside The “UD Bubble”

By: Chris Zimmer – Staff Writer

You cannot attend the University of Dayton without a certain word being stapled into your vocabulary. It’s not so much a word, but a mindset shared by the student body, faculty, and staff. It’s rooted in our school’s Marianist heritage, and grounded in the Catholic faith. By now you’ve probably guessed it: community. We learn the concept during freshmen orientation, and are reminded by signs and banners on campus throughout the school year.  

We all practice our commitment to community in different ways. For some the term means gathering for religious services, and for others it means going out with your friends to ‘The Ghetto.’ For some it means getting involved with a student organization, and for others it might be playing intramural sports. How you practice ‘community’ during your time here is ultimately up to you. However, I’d like to challenge students to re-examine what our ‘community’ actually is. We should see our ‘community’ not being confined between the intersections of Brown and Stewart Street, but the Greater Dayton area as a whole. Let’s look at our impact in two distinct ways: our commitment to serving the area and our economic impact.  

The University’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community works with academic programs and partners with many organizations to strengthen urban neighborhoods in the area. Students might act as ‘River Stewards’ for Five River Metro Parks, or work at youth and adult homeless shelters. Who knows what the Greater Dayton area would be like without our charity and service? I don’t even want to think of possible scenarios as someone who grew up here in the Miami Valley.

I encourage everyone to get involved with serving our greater community, but I also encourage everyone to support our economy as well. We spend every dollar to our name in a little bubble. Whether you’re buying lunch at a dining hall, or going out for drinks with your friends—it’s often spent within the radius of the university. Of course not everyone has a car, and Uber rides can add up. But do you really want your entire experience here at UD to be lived on just few hundred acres? I certainly haven’t, and can say there are a lot of fun things to do here in Greater Dayton area. Here are a just a few ways I recommend students to change their spending habits when it comes to food, entertainment, and recreation in our community.

Stop shopping at Kroger or Wal-Mart, and start buying your groceries from farmers’ markets. Many of the produce, dairy, and meat offered at these markets are not only organic, but are made by hardworking individuals and families surrounding the area. You would be eating healthier and supporting local agriculture. I personally like the Second Street Market downtown, and find the cost of food there isn’t drastic compared to supermarkets. Just tell your parents you don’t want to get cancer someday. I’m sure they’ll support your diet.  

Stop drinking the same old beer at the same old places. Don’t get me wrong—the nightlife on Brown Street is fun, but there’s some pretty cool ‘watering holes’ found in the area. According to Dayton Local, there are 17 microbreweries in the area which offer beer that tastes a sure of a whole lot better than Natty, Keystone, or lord forbid, Hamm’s. There are also a lot of cool restaurants and bars nestled in the Oregon District and found at the Greene. Expand your taste and enjoy yourself somewhere else once in awhile.

Stop exercising in the Rec, and get outside. One thing I noticed as a freshmen year was how many students commit themselves to personal fitness and exercise. We are so blessed to have state-of-the-art recreational facilities on our campus, but just like any activity, it can get old after a while. Whether you’re biking on one of the 330 miles of bike paths found in the Miami Valley or spending the day hiking at John Bryan State park, I think we can all agree a little adventure once in awhile is fun.

 

I don’t know whether it’s because I’m going on my fifth year of schooling at UD, or that I grew up in the Miami Valley, but at the end of the day our UD experience shouldn’t be lived inside the campus bubble. I encourage students, and especially freshmen, to venture outside their comfort zone this year and throughout their time here at the university. What’s the worst that can happen?