By Sam Phillips
The start of a new semester can leave students strapped for cash, but the Student Government Association is trying to help by directing students to businesses offering special promotions.
Ashley Orr, president of SGA, described the student discount cards they will be offering to students this fall.
“It’s the size of a business card, kind of like your student ID card, and shows the logos of the businesses that provide a student discount. It’s more of a promotional tool. These businesses are already offering discounts, and we want students to take advantage of it,” Orr said.
She said it’s something they care about.
“The SGA has been working for four or five years on finding student discounts,” Orr said.
The SGA conducted a survey over the summer to gain understanding of how many students at Youngstown State University know about the student discounts. They were shocked to find that 58.5 percent of students were unaware that student discounts exist in this area and 77 percent overall weren’t sure where to find them.
Mirna Tatic, a finance major at YSU, falls into that group.
“I’ve been a student at YSU for going on my fourth year, and I can’t even name all the places that give YSU students specific discounts,” Tatic said.
Tyler Miller-Gordon, secretary of technology for the SGA, said that is why they created the cards. They also asked students where they would like to receive discounts.
“We asked what kind of dining or bars you would like to get a student discount on, what kind of retail stores would you like to get a discount on,” Miller-Gordon said. “We spent the summer contacting those places and asking if they could give student discounts to YSU students.”
One popular suggestion was Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts. The manager was receptive to the idea and asked for more information about accepting Pete’s Points.
“The problem is that some of the businesses are larger, and although some of the stores would agree that student discounts would be a good idea, such as Barnes and Noble, they would go back to corporate and be told no, so there’s nothing they can do about that,” Orr said. “We stressed that it benefits them because although it is likely that students are already coming, once we give out the 4,000 cards that we printed out, they get a lot of free advertising.”
Dale Leatherberry, manager of the Joe Maxx coffee shop, advertises student discounts in the store and on social media, and even mentions it to customers who look like they are in college.
“That 10 percent gives them incentive to come in and get a cup of coffee,” Leatherberry said. “We definitely want to get the word out more [about student discounts]. We take any chance we can to get our name out there, show them what we do and show them how we take care of people”.
Tod Porter, an economics professor at YSU, said businesses offer student discounts because it helps them gain customers in two ways.
“One way is by making students aware of the business,” Porter said. “Charlie Staples, for example, is well off the beaten track from the campus, so it’s a good idea for them to do something to make incoming students particularly aware that, you know, they got all that tasty stuff.”
He said it can also help build brand loyalty. The other factor is price discrimination.
“The idea behind it is that you may have some customers who are willing to pay a higher price and others who are only willing to buy the good if it’s sold at a lower price. You got to find ways to make a discount for the second group, and in this case that’s the average college student,” Porter said.
The SGA has a plan implemented to advertise these student discount cards along with the businesses that provide discounts.
“We are going to do a student friendly business spotlight on our social media and website. For all businesses that were willing to participate, we are going to take a week to advertise specials — where it is, student discounts that they offer, things like that — to give them publicity so they are more willing to give us the discount,” Gordon said.
He added that he would like to see more collaboration between the campus and downtown Youngstown, and that attracting more students to the area would help.
“It helps because it gives that tight-knit feeling to the community,” Gordon said.
The SGA will be providing the cards to first-year students at orientation and handing the rest out on campus. The discount information can also be found on their website at sga.ysu.edu.