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My name is Carrie Bennett and I am currently the Student/Community Liaison for the office of the Dean of Student Life at Johns Hopkins University. The majority of my students know me as the ShushLady. Why “ShushLady”? Well, for years I have welcomed the incoming freshman classes during orientation with a rather animated speech about what I do and what I expect from them over the next four years. One of the lines that I use every year is that they will see me standing in front of nearly every party they go to, with my index finger pressed to my lips asking them to “Shhhhhh”. Next thing you know, I’m being addressed on the street as “the ShushLady” and the name has stuck. I adore the name and now I often introduce myself as the ShushLady.

So, what does being the ShushLady mean?

The Student/Community Liaison position was created in 2005 to help address many of the typical “town/gown” issues involving our undergraduate students who live, work, play and socialize off campus and our diverse population of community members in the areas surrounding the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. My job, in part, is to help our students make the transition from dormitory residents to becoming welcomed members of our surrounding communities. Simple, right?

According to our Admissions web page, for the 2010-2011 academic year, we have nearly 5,000 undergraduates at Hopkins. In very rounded numbers, a little over half of those students live in university owned housing. The other half live in privately owned apartment buildings and rowhomes. Apartments and rowhomes have one thing in common – they are typically “shared wall” living situations. The only thing separating one set of residents from another is often a common wall. A wall that usually lets a lot of noise through.

So we have almost 5,000 undergraduates, half of whom are living in “shared wall” housing, in a community that lives their lives in a manner completely different from that of a college student. Neighbors go to bed around the time that college students are just getting ready to go socialize. College parties tend to involve a lot of students, loud music and alcohol. That combination leads to conflict with the neighbors.

My job is to be available to our students and our neighbors during the times that most of these conflicts happen. I work every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 8pm until 4am, when school is in session. Part of that time is dedicated to meeting with students throughout the night to educate them on minimizing the negative impact their socializing might have on their neighbors. By proactively patrolling our surrounding neighborhoods during these critical times, I can often spot potential problems and work with the parties involved before a complaint is made. If a complaint is made regarding a student residence, my job is to work with the residents to rectify the immediate problem and to discuss ways to keep the situation from reoccurring in the future. All complaints are logged and any disciplinary actions are referred to the Office of the Dean of Student Life.


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