We recently interviewed Nick Andrew, the Speaker of the Senate for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN). We spoke to him about ASUN’s “Campus to the City” initiative to connect students with the city of Reno.

Please tell us your name and current position in student government. Please also tell us a little bit about who you are: your year, major, and any other background info you’d like to share.
My name is Nick Andrew. As the Speaker of the Senate for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, I run the legislative branch of ASUN. I am a senior studying neuroscience and I plan to go to medical school after graduation.

How did you get involved in ASUN?
I got involved in ASUN my sophomore year when I applied to fill an open senate seat for the Interdisciplinary Programs. I was selected by the Senators of the 82nd Session to fill the open seat. After winning my re-election campaign last spring, I was elected by my fellow senators to serve as Speaker for the 83rd Session.

Where did the idea for the Campus to City initiative come from?
The Campus to the City initiative is ASUN President Caden Fabbi’s idea to bridge the gap between our campus and our community. This past summer, we hosted the inaugural Mountain West Leadership Summit, a gathering of all of the student governments in our athletic conference. The Associated Students of San Jose State University talked about their efforts to get Spartan symbols painted throughout their community, and we thought it would be a great idea to try the same in Reno. The Campus to the City initiative began with an attempt to get Wolf Pack logos all over town, but it has expanded into a multitude of projects since.

What efforts have been made in the past to improve the campus’s relationship with the city?
For many years now, we have been discussing how to create a “university town” in Reno. The University of Nevada has always been the university on a hill, divided from the city that surrounds it. However, the University is incredibly close to downtown, and the community is incredibly proud to be home to the only Tier 1 institution in the state. The University has begun to expand southward toward downtown by building the collaborative Innevation Center, encouraging development of more public transit, and planning new buildings farther south into the community. However, a concerted effort is needed if we are going to build a vibrant community between the University and the city.

Please describe the new Campus to City initiative. What are its goals? What do you have planned?
The purpose of the Campus to the City initiative is to connect the University of Nevada with the surrounding community by hanging streetlight banners, painting Wolf Pack logos in street intersections, painting buffer zones in bike lanes, and creating partnerships with local businesses for student discounts. This initiative will bring “Pack Pride” into downtown and the surrounding city, foster a sense of safety and community, and make the University of Nevada more recognizable in the northern Nevada area.

What do you expect will be the biggest challenges with this initiative?
One of the biggest challenges we face will be buy-in from the community. In order to encourage students to venture beyond campus and become active residents and consumers, we are seeking partnerships with local businesses to offer student discounts. We will need support from the city in order to paint Wolf Pack logos all over town. We will need money from the Regional Transportation Commission in order to revitalize public transit in the area. Reno and the University have to work hand-in-hand for this to be successful.

What advice would you give to student leaders at other schools who might want to establish a similar program?
Student leaders shouldn’t be afraid to leave the bubble of their campus. While you can get a lot done working solely within your university, there are opportunities throughout the community. Engage with leaders from your school and your city. We aren’t just pursuing this one initiative; we are also trying to build a lasting and collaborative relationship with the City of Reno.