What if WU had a concierge desk?
As a lifelong resident, I have very mixed feelings about the city of St. Louis. While I think it is a nice place to raise a family, I’ll admit that it is not the most exciting place to be a student. Still, the STL has its gems, and while it may not be as easy to find an exciting day in St. Louis as it is in New York City, it can be done. As a native, I know that many Wash. U. students do not take full advantage of all that St. Louis has to offer. For example, few of my friends have actually been to the City Museum, truly one of the coolest and most exciting attractions in the city, or the Midwest for that matter. Students are somewhat to blame for this deficit of experience, but it is also due to the fact that many features of St. Louis are not well publicized in the Wash. U. community. In addition, many of the city’s attractions are neither cheap nor easy to access through public transportation. This is a problem that I believe can be fixed. I propose that Wash. U. start an organization dedicated to fostering the ability of its students to get out and enjoy the city.
Such an organization would tackle both the issues of publicizing attractions and activities, and of easing the logistics, allowing students to enjoy them. An example of a service the organization might provide is an informational service, perhaps in the form of a magazine or e-mail list, detailing places to go, things to do, and how to do them. In addition to providing information, the organization could help lower the organizational and financial difficulties of certain activities. Basically by buying in bulk and through subsidization, the organization could offer discounts on everything from Cardinals and Blues tickets, to attraction and museum entry fees, to contracting with a taxi company for discounts or subsidized rides.
While this organization would do work that is currently done in bits and pieces by the intricate blend of student activities, clubs, and Student Union structure at Wash. U., there would be advantages to centralization. The first advantage is the one mentioned above, the ability to buy in bulk and save money. Another advantage would be the ease with which students could use the resource. Instead of keeping tabs on an enormous number of clubs and class council events and opportunities, students could instead enjoy a one-stop shop for St. Louis fun. Imagine walking into an office on campus and 10 minutes later walking out with a dinner recommendation, low-priced tickets to a Cardinals game, and discounted passes to a nightclub after the game. I would certainly visit that office almost every weekend.
Now comes the question of how this organization could come into existence. There are several ways that I could see this happening. The first, and probably best, option would be for SU to sponsor the creation of such an office. SU has the necessary funding and know-how to promote such a program. Another option would be for Wash. U. to set up an official program that would accomplish the goals that I have laid out. A final option would be a student-run business through the Student Entrepreneurial Program (STEP) similar to Wydown Water and UTrucking. While such a business would be unlikely to subsidize student’s St. Louis adventures, it could still provide a number of services useful to students and could earn a profit at the same time. I hope the people involved in these organizations take the time to think about how valuable such a program could be to the Wash. U. community, and consider taking steps toward starting one.
Andrew is a sophomore in Engineering. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.