Over the summer, administrators and students worked together to design a program with the intention of giving students greater access to the city of Rochester. The program – Rochester Every Day – is set to launch this Halloween.

RED is designed to give students discounts at area businesses after the purchase of a red sticker for their ID cards, according to Dean of Students Jody Asbury. So far, 20 businesses of over 150 contacted have joined the effort.

“The RED program is designed to complement Fashionably Late in that we are cultivating some programs for that series that take students off campus,” Asbury said. “I have long said that we are lucky to be situated in a mid-sized city with a deep offering of cultural and social offerings and it seems logical to encourage students to pursue their passions and interests by participating in activities that interest them in the community. The Wilson Commons staff and our students run a great variety of programs, but those can be deeply enhanced and enriched by what the city has to offer.”

Last year, the Sophomore Class Council developed “Explore Rochester” brochures that gave students a list and map of local businesses along RTS routes 70 and 72. Members of student government also made arrangements to bus UR students to Mt. Hope and the Greece Ridge Mall.

Chili resident and Sophomore Class Council President Mike Guerra says that living close to UR helped motivate his desire to get students off campus.

“Last year, as a freshman, I did not have a car on campus like most of my peers,” Guerra said. “I knew what freshman, and other UR students, were missing. Because of that I am always willing to look into new ways to allow students to explore and get comfortable with Rochester.”

RED promoter and senior Anne Stinson is coordinating the efforts. “Businesses are eager to participate because college students are an incredible source of business,” Stinson said. “There is a lot of opportunity for cooperation between the city of Rochester and the university and RED is meant to expand upon this and to highlight what already exists.”

For $1, students will be able to purchase the sticker for their ID card, which will be available in the Hirst Lounge starting Oct. 31.

In addition to hiring a part-time RED promoter position, Asbury has also hired a part-time community consultant to work with both RED and the Community Service Network with the intention of hiring a new director of community based services.

SA President and senior Chris Calo and Chief-of-Staff junior Ilana Kaplan-Shain are currently working on developing a Web site that lists all “RED friendly” businesses, as well as a map with directions to their locations.

Director of Information Technology Services and Academic Technology Philip Ponella, who has been working with a similar program meant to develop city-centered programming, is currently combining the efforts of both programs. “We hope that one of the end results will be a Web site that will link students to off campus entertainment, clubs, restaurants, etc.,” Ponella said. “We intend for there to be a map of some of the more popular areas in the city that will allow students to click on individual establishments, giving [information] on the type of food, price range, directions [and] perhaps a menu. Things are still very much in development, but we hope to have at least a preliminary phase of the site up and running somewhere around the end of October [or] early November.”

“The most benefit students will receive from getting off campus is an increased quality of social life,” Guerra, who is not currently involved in the RED program, said. “Rochester is a highly musically charged city – for one thing – and I know that alone is an appeal to UR students that very few know about. [In general] there are many weekend and late night options that most of the UR campus does not know about.”

Stinson is optimistic about the program. “My hope is that as RED kicks off, businesses will continue to see the benefits of providing students with these services and even more will participate,” Stinson said. “Most importantly, RED is meant to show students and businesses alike that while other colleges have ‘college towns,’ [UR] has a ‘college city,'” she added, referring to a letter that Asbury wrote to the “Democrat and Chronicle.”

Asbury sees a broader benefit to RED. “I think it is important that students learn to be engaged citizens on campus and off and how they learn to do that here translates into how they will live their lives after college,” Asbury said.

Schnee can be reached at cschnee@campustimes.org.

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