Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Experience of the College Project

by Erica Nieves

In Phi Theta Kappa, the four cornerstones of this organization are scholarship, leadership, fellowship, and community service. These values are used in the process of the Honors in Action project, where research goals and leadership roles are important. These same values are also applied in the College Project.

The College Project is a coalition of Phi Theta Kappa and the school community to work together to achieve a goal. At President Mellow’s request, the Alpha Theta Phi chapter has been tasked to take on the issue of petitioning the Department of Transportation to regulate the high trafficked area of Thomson Avenue. On March 2012, a student from Applied Communications has passed away in front of our school on Thomson Avenue. To prevent another student death, “Yield to Student Bodies” was born.

We had an online petition and postcards in the past to advocate for this campaign. To move forward further, new methods were suggested by Claudia Chan, the Government Relations Manager. These new methods include creating letters for the businesses, surrounding schools, students, and community members. These signed letters would then be sent to the Department of Transportation Commissioner and local politicians representing the LaGuardia area. These letters would show the politicians the need and demand for the safety of the neighborhood on Thomson Avenue.

As the Project Coordinator,I have analyzed our approach and see good results. Five businesses have signed onto letters of support. Around forty members of the community have signed on letters of support to petition the Department of Transportation (DOT). I’ve only had one business and one school say no. Aside from writing letters of support for the surrounding community, we attended meetings with the DOT to hear their plans to make Thomson Avenue safer. So far, there are plans to convert 29th and 28th streets to northbound and southbound only. While it is a start, PTK is still going to push the topic of Thomson Avenue until the DOT makes Thomson Avenue safer for our community.

The College Project gave me a chance to experience a bit of local New York City politics, one area I’m definitely not familiar with. While it is important to pay attention to what laws Congress is passing or the current Presidential race, it is also very important to pay attention to your own neighborhood. Knowledge of what goes on institutionally in your own backyard will earn you respect, but advocating for the better is leadership. Getting involved in Phi Theta Kappa’s yearly College Project will help build this knowledge of what is going on in your own backyard.

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