About 250 Chapman students and Orange residents and about 30 of their pets came to the Aitken Arts Plaza in front of the Musco Center on Saturday to improve Chapman’s relations with the community.
The event, officially titled Student and Neighbor Get-Together, but affectionately called Chapman Dog Day, was hosted by student government’s Community Relations Committee .
“That’s the best way to partner with people – not to try and do stuff for them or they do stuff for us, but it’s us doing stuff together,” said sophomore Elliot Gardner, chair of the Community Outreach Committee.
Featuring lawn games and refreshments in the midday heat, long-time residents and students were encouraged to mingle and enjoy the company of four-legged friends.
Adam Duberstein, the founder of neighborhood organization Respect Orange, said that the aggravation from the community has been somewhat misdirected toward students.
“I think it’s a good event,” said Adam Duberstein, founder of Respect Orange. “I think the idea behind it is really good – to bring students and the community together to get to know one another … I think it is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Gardner’s committee seeks to mend relations between Chapman and the Orange community, which have been mainly caused by the university’s plans for expansion.
“We think it’s just a great way to open dialogue, but in a comfortable setting where people don’t feel threatened,” Gardner said.
Chapman Panhellenic, the University Program Board, the Delta Delta Delta sorority and Pet Supply Warehouse were among the seven tents that offered raffle tickets for themed baskets, paper masks and various small prizes at the event.
Freshmen screenwriting majors Giovanna Zavala and Jake Naturman spent the event petting dogs of all kinds and enjoying the music from Chapman Simply Vocale choir.
“What can be better than dogs, free baked goods and The Pride of Chapman (Pep Band)?” said Naturman.
The Community Outreach Committee advertised the event to students as a day to pet and play with puppies, but to members of the community, it was a student-neighborhood mixer that welcomed dogs.
“We don’t want to alienate anyone and make them feel that if they don’t have a dog they’re unwelcome,” said Gardner, who hopes to make Chapman Dog Day a yearly event.