Events for RAs Kick Off 4th Year of Downtown Engagement Initiative

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Eighty-seven Resident Assistants (RAs) took part in a downtown orientation experience on August 20 showcasing dining, entertainment and shopping options in downtown Scranton. This event represents the first in a series of fall activities designed to introduce students to downtown Scranton and is the 4th consecutive year the University has conducted them as part of its Downtown Engagement Initiative. 

The University’s Offices of Community Relations and Residence Life partnered with Scranton Tomorrow to offer their “FAM” walking tour to 45 new RAs. Returning RAs participated in a unique “Scavenger Hunt 2.0.”

The “FAM” tour is an engaging familiarization walking tour that goes in and out of a dozen businesses. This is the fourth year that the University has worked with Scranton Tomorrow to coordinate these tours for student groups, as well as faculty and staff.   

The “Scavenger Hunt 2.0,” designed by the Community Relations office, called for returning RAs to find businesses based on 50 unique clues—each one detailing a fun fact about a downtown business. RAs broke up into groups of three and took a funny or creative picture at the business. The funny photos were then uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #RAtour, incorporating social media into the experience. 

One clue that led students to Steamtown Hot Yoga described it as “After a long day, visit this place for a hot yoga class to let off some steam.”  Another highlighted Northern Light Espresso Bar with the clue, “Sip on your favorite espresso beverages with your friends at this cozy café!”

New to the RA Tour this year, four “selfie spots” are scattered throughout the downtown in historical locations. When the students got to the spot, they took a photo of themselves in front of the location and uploaded it to Instagram.

Afterwards, all of the RAs met back at Courthouse Square and dined at 10 different restaurants including Kildare’s, Posh at the Scranton Club, and Carl von Luger Steak and Seafood.

Brad Troy, Interim Director of Residence Life, says the RA Tour is a great way for the RAs to get out into the city. “They really are the main point of contact for lots of students who might not be familiar with the area and who need a recommendation for a place to eat or shop,” Troy said.

The RA Tour marked the beginning of a series of events this fall as part of the University’s Downtown Engagement Initiative. On Aug. 29, The University’s 4th annual Downtown Scavenger Hunt will take place – an interactive hunt designed to familiarize students with what downtown Scranton has to offer. Open to all students, teams of two walk through the downtown area using Foursquare and Instagram to solve clues at over 30 participating businesses. Last year more than 200 students participated.

The Downtown Scavenger Hunt is sponsored by PNC Bank, Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel, Community Bank, Love the Arts! Music, TMG Health, Martz Group, The Mall at Steamtown, NBT Bank, People’s Security Bank, Broadway Theatre League of Northeast Pennsylvania, Tobyhanna Federal Credit Union, and the Hilton Scranton & Conference Center. 

There will be several other events to connect students with the downtown community this fall. During Family Weekend, Sept. 19-21, the University will coordinate its Family Table discount program featuring local eateries. On Oct. 3, Community Relations will partner with Residence Life once again to organize the Electric City Downtown Nite, which highlights First Friday and includes dinner at a downtown restaurant, followed by a movie at Marquee Cinemas.

Feedback from a recent survey shows that the efforts of the Downtown Engagement Initiative have made an impact, including a  marked increase in student awareness and patronage of the myriad businesses downtown. For example, participation in First Friday by freshmen has increased 17% since 2011. 

The University is also participating in two collaborative downtown events in partnership with the seven other Lackawanna County colleges.  A special Downtown Outdoor Movie, featuring Iron Man 3, is planned for Sept. 4 (rain date Sept. 5) at 7:45 p.m. in cooperation with Scranton Tomorrow.  Lackawanna County is hosting a special County College Battle of the Bands on November 1 from 5-7 p.m. that will include student bands performing before a panel of judges.

For more information about the University’s Downtown Engagement Initiative, visit the Community Relations website.