Walk this Way program seeks to keep noise down in Amherst area

(Courtesy of the University of Massachusetts)

(Courtesy of the University of Massachusetts)

By Patrick Johnston

The Walk this Way program is an organized effort to reduce noise and litter produced by students of the University of Massachusetts in the neighborhood near the Southwest Residential Area. The program started in the spring of 2013 as a way to encourage students to respect the neighborhood that many walk through when returning to campus during the weekends.

Walk this Way is headed by Dr. Sally Linowski, the assistant dean of students, and is supervised by Jillian Toce and Nicole Rau, both graduate assistants. The program currently has nine undergraduate students involved. Those in the program can be seen wearing their signature green t-shirts in the neighborhood adjacent to campus at intersections on Fearing, Nutting and Phillips streets between 10:30 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

“Walk this Way is important because many neighbors and students have felt the impact of noise, trash, public urination and vandalism on weekend evenings. Our overarching goal is to minimize the impact of these issues on the neighborhood,” Toce said. “Our main goal is to encourage students to be mindful of their noise level and respectful of the neighborhood.”

When the program began last year, this goal was accomplished by encouraging students returning for the night to take an on-campus route back to their dorms and stay off the residential streets of the neighborhood. While this is still encouraged, the program has shifted its approach.

“As the program has evolved, we have recognized that people prefer to go from point A to point B the fastest way possible and for some that is through the neighborhood. That is why our focus is on noise level and being respectful in the neighborhood,” Toce said.

That is not the only way the program has evolved.

Walk this Way began as a “volunteer based initiative” but since then, it has developed paying jobs students can sign up for. Students receive nine dollars per hour and average four to eight hours each week. According to Toce, the program recently hired some students, but is not accepting more at the moment. She also said if more students will be able to be hired, information will be available on the UMass Amherst Student Employment website.

According to Toce, this program has received a great amount of respect from students and the residents of the neighborhood alike, and she expressed the belief that this positive attitude will continue.

“As we continue getting our name and message out there, I am confident that we will continue to receive positive feedback from neighbors and students alike. Some of the Fearing Street neighbors had the Walk this Way staff over to thank us for the work that we did last fall,” she said. “I absolutely feel that the program has been successful and am proud of the work that the staff has accomplished thus far.”

Patrick Johnston can be reached at [email protected]