Local businesses entice student body
blog by The Buffalo State Record • September 16, 2011 @ 10:44am
The Student Life office is encouraging students and faculty to socialize and connect off campus with its new project, BSC On the Move.
Originally conceptualized from a commuter survey in spring 2011, BSC On the Move provides local businesses with a new market and gives the students and faculty the opportunity to take advantage of what the local community has to offer. The name for the project was inspired by the nature of commuters, said Gail Wells, director of the Student Life Office.
Wells said she thinks commuters are at a social disadvantage because they do not have the luxury of being connected to campus and are constantly moving about campus and the local community. BSC On the Move then took roughly two months over the summer to put together, said Richard Harris, assistant director for Student Life.
“First we had to know what BSC On the Move was going to look like,” Harris said. “We wanted it to be a venue where faculty, students (and) athletes could come and socialize outside the classroom. Professors and faculty are not socializing with students and vice versa, especially commuter students.”
Harris then had to go out and find local businesses — particularly on Grant Street and the Elmwood strip — that had a desire to work with students and the school as a whole. Among the businesses contacted were Pearl Street Grill and Pano’s. Since the businesses were sought out, Harris said he had hoped that they would spread the word and that the program can grow in the future.
The first social in the series took place on Sept. 2 at Spot Coffee on Delaware Avenue. Free coffee and cookies were provided for faculty and students.
On Monday, students and faculty went to Sweetness 7 Cafe on Grant Street to sample the “Tiger Tonic” and “Bengal Bite” muffin, named by BSC alumna and cafe owner Prish Moran.
The final social will take place at J.P. Bullfeathers on Monday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. There, students will be able to enjoy pizza and wings with their Monday Night Football.
The program aims reach out to local businesses while keeping in mind that participating students are of all ages, and being careful not to focus too much on the bar scene, Harris said.
BSC On the Move is being predominantly funded through the Student Life Office, whose budget comes from Residence Life, Harris said. He said he feels that the businesses have been lenient on their prices and have given reduced prices for these events, but Student Life is still footing the bill.
Timberly Goodall, secretary for the Commuter Council, said she thinks the most difficult thing about being a commuter student is not being connected to campus.
“You don’t get to see many people. You’re here, to class and then you’re gone. That’s why I wanted to join the Commuter Council — I wanted commuters to feel more connected to campus,” Goodall said.
Wells said she also believes this is the greatest challenge facing commuter students, that it is difficult to form friendships because classes are not a social environment.
“I just brought my friend and we just talked at a cafe and it wasn’t like a school event. It felt very natural,” said Goodall of the first social.
Harris said he agrees that connecting to campus and to others is a difficult task for commuters to combat, which is why he took initiative after the survey results were in.
“Eighty percent of Buff State students are commuters and I have a budget of roughly $1,200,” Harris said.
Considering the number of students who are to be provided for by the budget, the Student Life Office is limited in what it is able to do for commuters. To stretch the funds, the office collaborates with the commuter council, USG and dining services, Harris said.
“We’re trying but I believe definitely with more funding or more of a buy-in with other offices, USG, I think we could do more,” Harris said.
Harris said he feels that Buffalo State students are seen as a nuisance by the local community and he hopes this will help reestablish and strengthen the college’s relationship with the community.
“We are an urban campus, I believe the only SUNY urban campus, so we have a unique advantage and responsibility,” Harris said.
Harris said he wants to promote the Grant Street area in the near future because there will soon be a community outreach center built for Buffalo State students to do community service. Among the students Harris oversees is a group of 11 student mentors, who are in the process of developing their own community service project.
Once the project has been completed, Harris said he hopes to bring the people they worked with onto campus at the end of the semester for a celebration and then the students and community involved can build on that experience for the future semesters.