By Alex Guerra
The Student Union is providing a sense of community with the expansion of a program called the Student Union Perks Program. Through this program, students can gain points by attending and participating in various school events and activities.
“It’s been around for a few years now, but it has been more prevalent I guess within the last two years…because of the pandemic. You know more students have been more aware about it and we’ve been trying to get more marketing to reach more students about it,” stated Leizelle Mitchell, a fourth year communication major with an emphasis in environmental communication and one of the Student Union Engagement and Student Services supervisors.
Mitchell went on to emphasize how the Student Union has been working on marketing the program to students more, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, hence why to students it may appear as a new program the school is implementing. She stated how the program was already being marketed throughout the school, particularly in the Student Union Building, long before the pandemic occurred.
However, as things changed so too did the program. As Mitchell noted, “We decided to kind of expand our marketing regarding it because of the pandemic because we’re all working from home…it was easier to be able to expand (the program). And because the Student Union is fostered towards students and wants to give students the opportunity to have more inclusiveness and closeness to their campus.” It was a way for students to be able to gain a stronger ability to earn points and prizes, while also feeling a sense of belonging to their school campus, even when they are far from each other.
In terms of how the system works, it is very well organized in a tier system, with the lowest tier (Tier 1) having prizes ranging from markers to coloring books, and Tier 4 giving students Hydro Flasks and baseball caps. As for the grand prize? Students can earn themselves anything from a gaming keyboard to an Echo Dot!
“Why the range of prizes?” one may ask. Mitchell informed, “We have it separated like that so that students have more of an opportunity to gain more points and they are more engaged and more active and wanting to attend more events to earn those points to get up in tiers.” This desire to have students more eager to join was the reason for the variety of prizes, not to mention to try to understand what students want out of them. With the tier system, a student must reach a certain amount of points to reach new prizes. If one wants to reach Tier 1, as according to the Student Union’s webpage, one would need to reach 40 points in order to gain a prize. Tier 2 would need 80 points, Tier 3 needs 120 points, Tier 4 160 points, and the grand prize needs a total of 200 points!
But have no fear! Different activities and events grant students a certain amount of points, making it easy to rise in the tiers for bigger prizes. One can think of it like an arcade, where the more tickets you get, the more prizes you get to earn. How do you get it? Well, you just play more games! Here, you attend more events and activities at CI, and each event can earn you a certain amount of points. For instance, a student can gain two points for following the Student Union on Facebook, and an extra two points for following the Instagram page. To gain a greater amount of points, such as 20 or 15, students will need to attend Student Union events and events sponsored by Student Government.
Yet, how would one be able to gain the prizes they earned? Well, students have a few options. Mitchell noted that “once a student is eligible for a prize tier I will send a prize tier eligibility email stating which tiers that they are eligible for and the amount of points that they have. (T)hen I will give them a list of the prizes that they are eligible for along with the next tier.”
If a student does not want a prize in a tier, no worries! Students are able to stack up their points if they want to get a higher tiered prize. Even more so, students will have the opportunity to easily get their prizes, regardless of whether they are at home or on campus. “We do order and ship all of our prizes to all students who do redeem them so it will likely be the same, and if a student happens to live on campus there might be a way for them to pick it up from the Student Union Office, but we’re still working on that.”
When students return to campus, they will be greeted with a wonderful program that will allow them to ease into the social events that we have all missed so much. Even through the pandemic, Mitchell expressed that many students were happy and excited that the Student Union Perks Program was going on, how it gave them that sense of hope and comfort during these crazy times. “I think they’ll offer a way for students to…relieve some stress and also a way to just have some fun really. And I think even this semester now, I’ve had a lot of students tell me this has been… a great way for me to get my mind off a lot of things, because it’s been very hard for a lot of students working online and doing class work online.”
The last school year has truly been a crazy year, that is definitely fair to say. Many students had to adapt, and this program provided some sense of hope for many. With things slowly opening up and students soon able to go back to in-person classes, it is safe to say too that this program will be here to stay. Now students can gain that sense of comfort and hope, whether they are in person or online.
For more information about the Student Union Perks Program, please visit: https://asi.csuci.edu/student-union/supp.htm.