By Ali Pilgram
A monthly event, Third Thursday, has been orchestrated to expose Missouri Western students to the culture and businesses associated with downtown Saint Joseph.
In an effort to bridge the gap between both entities, several downtown businesses offer discounts, drink specials and more as incentives to draw students in.
Evan Banks, vice president of SGA as well as manager of The Tiger’s Den, began the groundwork for this program last summer and has personally seen a positive turnout.
“I have seen an increased number of young people and students frequent not only at The Tiger’s Den, but other businesses downtown as well,” Banks said. “It is nice to see that some students are embracing what so many downtown are trying to build.”
The program, presented by the Division of Student Affairs and the SGA, has been in effect since August of the 2018-2019 school year.
In addition to free transportation from the university to downtown, a lot of behind-the-scenes work has been invested into making Third Thursday a reality.
Much of the marketing and advocacy, for instance, is now attributed to Engoma Fataki, student director of external relations.
In regards to the most recent Third Thursday, which took place Feb. 21, Fataki said that the SGA did not see as great of a turnout as they were hoping for. Fataki believes the decision to get involved will only go as far as the willingness of the students.
“I think that we have been doing our part,” Fataki said. “We have been doing the best we can, and we may not be there yet. It comes down to the point that we can’t get someone to do something if they do not want to do it… (the students) have to be willing to get involved in the first place.”
Dana Massin, owner of Manic Snail, has also observed how students have not quite seized the opportunity to explore everything that downtown businesses have to offer.
“I don’t think the retail businesses see as much foot traffic,” Massin said. “Businesses like Mokaska, I know, offer drink specials and provide an atmosphere where students can socialize and get their work done, so I think that’s where most students spend their time.”
Banks is proud of the progress that has been made so far with the program.
“There is a considerable amount of work that goes into creating and maintaining a program like this and continuing to provide a quality program for the student body.”
The program also has its own Facebook page called “St. Joe Third Thursday” where the public can find out more information regarding transportation, discounts and more.
The upcoming Third Thursday events will take place March 21 and April 18.