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Local businesses offer discounts to students

John Cameron | Tuesday, November 23, 2010

While students may be aware that certain businesses offer discounts for college students, student government’s recently initiated Students for South Bend Discount Program aims to expand awareness and use of these discounts.

Student body president Catherine Soler said that, in addition to requests for the ability to use Flex Points and Domer Dollars off campus, students commonly inquired about a discount program. Students expressed their desire for a discount program during this year’s Whine Week, an event through which students could voice their desires and concerns about student government programs.

“We got it again at Whine Week, to get Domer Dollars and Flex Points off campus,” she said. “While that’s popular, we decided based on student opinion that we’d focus instead on an off-campus discount program, and what it’s become is the Students for South Bend Discount Program.”

Student Senate Off-Campus Concerns chair Emily LeStrange said that, while the idea of a student discount program is not new, the Students for South Bend program is the first at Notre Dame that does not require the purchase of a discount booklet.

“Previous student government discount initiatives have all required students to purchase a discount booklet,” she said. “We feel that this time around, a free discount program that all students are welcome to participate in encourages greater use of the program.”

Soler said student participation in the program hinged on not having to go out of the way to use it.

“We knew it would never work if you had to buy something to get into it, and it would never work if you had to carry around something extra,” she said. “The stipulation for joining the program is that you must be eligible for the discount just by showing ID.”

Soler said students who present a Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College or Holy Cross student identification card could receive the discounts.

“The way we’ve done this is to work with Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s so it’s not just a Notre Dame [program], but a college program,” she said.

Many businesses were invited to apply, and there was immediately a strong response, LeStrange said.

“We were able to send out over 100 invites to local businesses asking them to join the Students for South Bend program, and within the first month we have gathered about 35 participants,” LeStrange said. “All participants will receive a window decal marking their participation in the program at the start of next semester.”

The group of businesses committed to the program includes restaurants like Studebagels and Main St. Grille as well as service providers like the South Bend Museum of Art and Hair Crafters Day Spa Salon. LeStrange said the focus on local businesses could help strengthen the relationship between students and the community.

“I think that a stable, commercial relationship between local business and students is a crucial component of strengthening community relations,” she said. “I think that ultimately, this is a great way for Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross to bridge the gap between college students and South Bend residents that is positive and supportive of what South Bend has to offer.”