New SU student group strives to bring students to the heart of downtown

The Connective Corridor staff and students are working together to bridge the gap between campus and downtown Syracuse.

Why don’t more Syracuse University students go downtown?

A small group of students asked this question at the first meeting of the Connective Corridor Student Advisory Council that met in Newhouse on Sept. 26. They came up with many answers: It’s far; it’s hard to get to; parking; people aren’t aware of events that are going on.

“There are about 15,000 students who go to SU and some of them don’t know what the city has to offer. I want to bridge that gap and connect them with the city.”
- Gina DiNapoli said.

The advisory council aims to find creative solutions to fix the disconnect between students and the city of Syracuse through programming.

The idea behind forming the council started with Linda Dickerson Hartsock, director of the Connective Corridor, a community revitalization initiative and partnership between SU, the city of Syracuse, and Onondaga County.

“I wanted student input on what they wanted to see happen along the Corridor,” Hartsock said. (The Corridor is the route the Connective Corridor bus takes.) “At the first meeting I asked students how they wanted to experience Syracuse and the common denominator was food.”

After only five meetings, the council is launching their first event, a downtown food crawl titled Experience ‘Cuse, this weekend.

The event will start on Friday, Nov. 7, with two guided food tours. The first is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the second is from 4:00 p.m. to 6 p.m. for $15. Michael Heagerty founder of NOexcuses Tours, Inc., a tour group that provides distinctive tours of the greater Syracuse community, will lead the tours. 

For those who prefer to skip the tour and go tasting on their own, on Saturday night there will be specials offered at participating restaurants including: Lofo, Empire Brewing Company, and bc Restaurant. The specials are available to students with their SU IDs. Sunday wraps up the weekend that the students hope will satisfy any self-proclaiming foodie with a three-course brunch at Small Plates for $15, Hartsock said. 

Hartsock was surprised that an event came out of the first meeting, but was clearly excited the students’ want to be so involved.

“If students have a great time coming downtown and experiencing food, then maybe they would take the next step and come down and experience art, experience music, experience culture, experience shopping. Or, volunteer, intern, apply for a job, and find other ways to connect,” Hartsock said.

President of the club Gina DiNapoli, a senior at SU and a real estate and advertising double major, is passionate about bringing students into the city.

“There are about 15,000 students who go to SU and some of them don’t know what the city has to offer. I want to bridge that gap and connect them with the city,” DiNapoli said.

As the students discussed what event they wanted to organize they decided why not start out big, DiNapoli said. The food crawl will be the council’s kick-off event.

“After this week, we are going to have weekly specials. We set up a restaurant outreach group to continue organizing the specials for students. We developed a relationship and now we want to maintain it,” DiNapoli said.

SU junior Seth Porter said he joined the council because he wanted to be involved in more extracurricular activities. “As a Television, Radio, and Film major at Newhouse, I wanted to branch out. The council was a great opportunity to do so.”

“Students think Marshall Street is everything. We want to promote the value of the restaurants and businesses downtown and help the community as well – that's the most important part.” Porter said. 

The members also gained valuable experience in organizing and planning the food crawl. Students are working on design, video production, marketing, community outreach, and social media, DiNapoli said.

“The idea of building the Connective Corridor was to connect students with the community, this event is a great way to help them find each other,” Hartsock said.

“The bottom line is when you come to Syracuse University we also want you to have a great experience in the city of Syracuse.” 

Students will be able to check the council’s Instagram for further events and specials being organized at #experiencecuse.

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