Student Government meets with the President of Student Savings Club
By Daria Sokolova
The most valuable student discount program in North America, the Student Savings Club, was the focus of the Student Government Association’s Oct. 30 meeting. The club requires a formal sponsorship from on-campus organizations, so SGA spoke with Patrick Moriarty, president of Collegiate Services, Inc., about getting involved.
Although the discussion about the controversial Student Savings Club was raised at the two previous meetings, the members of the student senate were not able to reach a consensus on whether the program should be adopted by Roosevelt University.
Titled the Memorandum of Understanding, the program would be a partnership between Collegiate Services Inc. and SGA to offer a range of discounts at local and national stores.
“We have aggregated the largest body of discounts anywhere in the country,” Moriarty said during the SGA meeting. “There are 355 local discounts posted. We also have an array of online discounts that we have worked through with the other major providers of program.”
Moriarty said that this year, SSC wants to put all the discounts in a new free app that would make the system more user-friendly to all of the program’s participants.
He noted that Roosevelt students will have to choose which businesses they want, as each school has an option to come up with their own discounts.
“We want to customize a program for your school that addresses your specific shopping and buying needs,” Moriarty said. “What we want to do is to aggregate local businesses that would be representative of where you want to shop.”
To explain how the program works, Moriarty provided an example of University of Illinois at Chicago where SSC has been implemented since December 1993.
Moriarty admitted that online discounts work slightly different from their local and national counterparts.
“[The discounts] are in organizations that we have partnered with,” Moriarty said. “You register a credit card. … When you make a purchase, your identity is known, but discount comes to you as a form of cash back on a credit card. … [Businesses] have to be aware of identifying you as a student. … It’s not something we manage, we just simply present it on our site.”
Following the announcement, Sen. William Padera voiced concerns over disclosing students’ sensitive information to companies that are not affiliated with the university.
Addressing the safety concerns, Moriarty said the program has never had any problems.
“It’s very safe,” he said. “We don’t capture the information. We don’t store it. They don’t either. It’s simply identifying human being as a student, as opposed to somebody else.”
According to Moriarty, it costs $1,500 to develop an individual program that will include various businesses, from restaurants to auto services, where students can save money.
If implemented at Roosevelt, the program will be available to students in January.
“Our intent is to be able to save you $2,000 a year on out-of-pocket expenses, and we can do that by cutting your shopping costs, locally,” Moriarty said.
Moriarty noted that the program will most likely grasp only individual locations of franchised businesses.
Some of the discounts already offered by the SSC include Sarpino’s Pizzeria, Jiffy Lube, Polk Street Pub and Baskin Robbins. The discounts featured on the page range from percentages to individual price adjustments.
Moriarty also said the partnership between Collegiate Services Inc. and Geoperks, a network that allows companies to promote their brand at high schools, colleges and grocery stores through a specialized app platform, has already set a launch date for the smartphone app.
“We are testing the program this November and December in California — in San Jose [and] in Fullerton,” he explained. “The first quarter of 2014, we should have a fully operational app in this market. We don’t want the healthcare.gov — we don’t want any disaster like that.”
Moriarty said, if adopted by Roosevelt, the program will require students to download the new app.
“Once the app is downloaded, the rest works for itself,” he said. “You don’t have to continue [to] go back to a website to see the deal.”
Moriarty called the company’s current website “heavy” and said the future participants will be able to have faster and easier access to the program’s perks. According to him, the 2014 program will be oriented for smart phones rather than computers.
“That’s why we are introducing a new technology — to freight the program,” he said. “It’s going to be neat when it’s finished.”
After the launch of the app and the rebranding their website, Moriarty said Collegiate Services Inc. also plans to provide an internship for students interested in working on mechanisms of a new download campaign.
In the follow-up discussion, the student senate agreed that promotion of SSC among Roosevelt students will be done by the Communication Committee.
“It [promotion] does require effort but it’s effort that we are going to be putting our backs behind,” Moriarty said. “You can make sure that every single business in your program will have a business decal designating
them as a school. Pretty soon, all over the city you are going the see little Geoperks logos like you see Yelp.”
According to Moriarty, if Roosevelt accepts the program, the payment of $1,500 will cover the program from January 2014 through January 2015.
Despite the promising offer, some members of the student senate were skeptical about the benefits of the program.
“I’ve been part of the SAFAC before,” one senator said. “I’ve seen lots and lots of money poured into some events that only one little group of people end up going to.”
“We are already putting a lot of responsibility on making students aware of it,” noted Sen. Shawn Mukherji from the Committee of Political Affairs. “It has to be beneficial. The students have to use it on constant basis.”
As the senate didn’t come to a conclusion about the SSC at the end of the meeting, the Executive Board will hold a further discussion about how the SGA will proceed with getting the student’s body input into the matter.
“It seems like senators are divided on whether the SSC is a good idea or not,” said SGA Trustee Chris Mich.