To the Editor:
Thanks for sharing these articles (Monitor, January 2021, pages 7-11); it’s great to see positivity highlighted in our neighborhoods!
As one of the initial members of the partnership, who helped identify mission, I was a little disappointed to read:
“For 20 years, Bethel University has supported the Frogtown Summit-University Partnership, whose mission is to build intentional, long-term relationships in the two neighborhoods. The FSU Partnership takes the form of student internships at non-profits serving the two neighborhoods; participation in community events; and direct involvement from whole classes at the university in projects.”
A hallmark of this partnership between the university and our neighborhoods is that it exists so that the university can benefit from engagement in our neighborhoods primarily for their students, and the neighborhoods can benefit from the educational resources offered by the university. The university demonstrated its commitment to partnering with our neighborhoods when it moved the funding for the partnership from grant funded sources to being a line item in the university’s budget. Another demonstration of the university’s commitment to partnering with our neighborhoods was when it created scholarships for residents of our neighborhoods to be able to attend the university. It was the Bethel-Frogtown-SummitU Partnership.
The statement that was printed implies that the university is in a paternalistic role of “supporting” that partnership. It also sadly leaves out the true sense of reciprocity that made this partnership real in its inception. It didn’t mention that neighborhood organizations are who identify what is needed in terms of student engagement - and that university departments are invited by the neighborhoods to fill needs identified by the neighborhoods through student engagement. These are key statements that support the self-determination of our neighborhoods.
Frogtown resident (30 years)
Editor’s note: Thanks so much for helping us learn more about this partnership through your letter. We appreciate your important clarification and will make sure that future partnerships between Bethel University’s journalism students and the Monitor that are funded through the Bethel-FSU partnership reflect this information.