On Wednesday, May 4, Student Forum announced their newly founded partnership with local restaurants, providing Union students with a 10 percent discount to select restaurants in the Schenectady area.
Upon showing a Union ID to a restaurant employee, students will receive a discount from the currently participating restaurants: Ayelada, Jade Bistro, Manhattan Exchange, Mexican Radio and Tops American Grill, Bakery & Bar. Student Forum hopes to include an increasing number of restaurants in weeks to come.
This initiative was made possible through a process that began with gathering brochures from local restaurants and sending out letters to identify which restaurants were interested in partnering with the college.
“Students often get discounts to various activities all over the country, and we thought it made perfect sense to bring that idea to our own community,” says Ilan Levine ’16, president of Student Forum.
The initiative, in part, is to keep up with Schenectady’s rapidly expanding restaurant scene- described by Levine as “vibrant and diverse.” However, providing a discount for students at local restaurants is primarily intended to provide students with more off-campus liberties, as well as to better tie students into the Schenectady community.
Student freedom and off-campus participation have evidently become underlying themes for Student Forum this year, as reflected in the last initiative passed, which established ZipCar on campus.
“We know students like eating off campus from time to time, so we decided that working with local restaurants to create a discount would be a really simple way to help out our fellow students, while also bringing the Union and the Schenectady communities closer together,” says Levine.
Class of 2019 vice president Anat Tewari states, “I would love it if I saw more groups of students walk freely to downtown and take advantage of the discount! I really want the class to help the entire student body realize the many things we can do within a 10 minute walk from campus.”
Since first receiving news of the initiative, students have been verbal about their gratitude, suggestions and opinions. “The discount is an even better reason to bond with friends over food off campus,” says Rebecca Taslitz ’19, who emphasized her excitement over a greater accessibility to off campus experience.
Heather Nichols ’19 says, “It will definitely help me get off campus and not spend a ton of money.”
Other students expressed suggestions on where the discount should be taken next. “They should extend the discount to take out in general, like Chinese food and Dominoes, because people mainly are going to get food that they don’t have to walk to,” recommends Andrew Wojtowicz ’19.
Wojtowicz’s ideas are augmented by those of his peer Alec Lesniewski ’19, who states: “I’m glad that Union has started to take an initiative in decreasing the amount of student spending. However, I would like to see the price of Dutch and Skellar decrease before any local restaurant.”
Although there are more restaurants to be included in the future, the current arrangement of Schenectady eateries offer a variety of different themes and tastes.
Ayelada, located on Troy Schenectady Road in Latham, a 15 minute drive from campus, is a frozen yogurt bar that advertises being “Fresh, local, and real!” Ayelada uses dairy, toppings, and flavors from local farms and artisans, and makes a new batch of frozen yogurt every day, right at the location.
Jade Bistro is an Asian fusion restaurant located on Mohawk Avenue in Scotia, a 10 minutes drive from campus. The menu offers a variety of dishes from China, Japan, and Thailand.
Manhattan Exchange is a 7-minute walk from campus or a 4 minute drive, and offers predominantly pub food. Laura Doody ’19 comments, “Manhattan Exchange is awesome. The burgers are already $5 on Wednesdays, so it’s super cheap!”
Mexican Radio, located on State Street in Schenectady, an 8 minute drive or 16 minute walk from campus, offers an array of Mexican dishes, as well as occasional community and entertainment events.
Tops American Grill, Bakery & Bar is located on Duanesburg Road in Schenectady, a 14 minute drive from campus, and offers a range of American-style food.
Looking towards the future of the 10 percent local discount, Tewari says, “After a short survey, it became evident that many students want to get Bombers in the discount service. More work will be done by Student Forum for the rest of the term to get Bombers and many more on board.”
Levine says, “Forum will be working hard to expand the program to more restaurants as we approach the end of the academic year. We are also working on developing a special sticker that restaurants can use to help identify themselves as participants.”