Many students unaware of WildCARD discounts

Erin Stock

Through the WildCARD Advantage Program, students, faculty and staff can receive a free small bag of popcorn, a 20-percent discount on books, $5 off an hour-long massage and even $50 off Web hosting depending on where they shop.

When it comes time to pay, though, many students aren’t reaching for their cards.

“When you’re ordering you don’t always think to pull out your WildCARD and ask for a discount,” said Emily Petrone, a Communication senior. “I can never keep track of who offers the discount.”

The Associated Student Government initiated a program last week to recruit new businesses for the advantage program and find ways to better publicize the discounts.

Participating merchants usually post purple stickers on their doors that advertise WildCARD Advantage, and a link on the HereAndNow Web site lists all participating vendors. Still, many students are unaware of the service.

“I just think students don’t know,” said Jenny Kim, an Elder Hall senator and business recruiter. “I’m sure if they did — because we are all poor, starving college students — that they would gladly use it.”

About 150 establishments in Evanston already offer WildCARD discounts, said John Marshall, manager for supplier diversity at NU who founded the program in 1997. About 50 others offer discounts online or near the Chicago campus, he said.

Business recruiters hope to expand that number, targeting merchants, such as restaurants, that students frequently patronize, Kim said.

Kim, a Weinberg freshman, said vendors benefit from the program as much as students do: In exchange for discounts, the businesses get free advertising.

Some merchants said they were disappointed that the discount, which can range from a free fountain drink to a percentage off the bill, didn’t draw in more customers.

Nathalie Barbier, a manager at LuLu’s Dim Sum and Then Sum, 804 Davis St., said after 8 p.m. students can get noodle stir-fry entr