Caldwell College is making a special point to introduce its new students to downtown Caldwell this summer.
As part of the college’s four overnight orientations, incoming freshman and transfer students are skipping the school cafeteria and heading into town to get acquainted with local businesses and have dinner.
“We wanted to give them exposure to our town,” said Sr. Kathleen Tuite, Vice President for Student Life. “We have a wonderful town with wonderful experiences and opportunities for our students to partake in.”
Tuite said a total of 260 students have signed up for the overnight orientations, regardless of whether they will be staying on campus come fall.
Seven restaurants—, , , , , and —have participated in the dinners, the last of which is scheduled for this Thursday night.
Led by Michele DeVoe, director of student activities at the college, Thursday's group will include about 100 students who will split up among the participating restaurants. Their meal, which was pre-arranged to be no more than $10, will be paid for by the school.
Rockn’ Joe will provide a sandwich and a drink, said Andrew Sgarlato, the owner’s son. In addition, he said, each student will receive a $5 gift card to use on a return visit.
Drew Danielowicz of Hog Wild BBQ said he expects about 20 students and will serve them their choice of a burger or a sandwich, as well as a drink.
Danielowicz said he occasionally gets customers from the college and would consider offering a discount to students.
The response to the downtown dinners have been nothing but positive, said DeVoe. Not only do the students get to try out the restaurants, but they see where the hair and nail salons and other businesses are located, too.
“The students, they love it. They love getting off campus,” she said.
DeVoe added that for many students coming to the college is the first real sense of freedom they have. It is not uncommon, she said, for a student to ask an orientation leader if it’s okay to go to at night.
Not only is having the students come to town good for the businesses, the students also become aware of potential part-time jobs.
“We have students all over the place working. I am hoping that this opens opportunities not just for the town, but for our students as well,” DeVoe said.
Danielowicz at Hog Wild did mention he is looking to hire for the fall, when his summer staff heads back to college.