UGBC Provides Vouchers for Students, Supports Local Businesses

The Undergraduate Government of Boston College is purchasing vouchers for students from local businesses in an effort to boost campus morale, according to Christian Guma, UGBC president and CSOM ’21.

“This would be a way to make people happy,” Guma said. “It would help make their day better and pay for their food, and also would help our community. Especially with COVID, the economic impact and also just the general toll that COVID has taken on the entire community, we wanted to find a way to sort of do our part as UGBC to help the students and help the community.”

Starting in November, UGBC has paid for 500 vouchers for White Mountain Creamery, 750 vouchers for Flat Breads, and 1,000 vouchers for Dunkin’, according to Guma. The vouchers were free for students and could be picked up at Robsham Theater on a first-come, first-served basis, according to a UGBC notice. 

“One of our goals this year in all of UGBC was to use our funds to benefit the students directly,” Guma said. “That’s something that, you know, wasn’t always the case in years past and we wanted to make that a priority this year.”

Guma said that to his knowledge, UGBC had never done a voucher program like this in the past, but he hopes it can continue after he is gone because it is a great way to invest directly in the student body and local businesses.

Working with these businesses has had a great impact on BC students and the community as a whole, Guma said, especially on the businesses nearby.

“One of the things I think we all realize with COVID is that the small businesses and the businesses of the community are really, like, an integral part, right, and these businesses are part of sort of what makes BC BC, you’ll always see BC students outside of them,” he said.

John Acampora, the owner of Flat Breads, said he has worked there for 29 years and has never seen this much excitement from students before. 

“Given the economic environment that we operate in, when the students leave [campus] we’re out of business,” he said. “So the opportunity to serve, you know, at any level is substantial.”

Acampora said he thinks the University should do more in terms of supporting local businesses through programs like this one. Given the opportunity, Acampora said Flat Breads would continue to provide vouchers through UGBC.

“I think it’s a win win for everybody, you know, and I think, quite frankly, the more BC does stuff like that—that’s a bit more creative and outside the lines—it serves everybody in a very wonderful way,” he said.

Peter Coufos, the owner of White Mountain Creamery, said that his business experienced an increase in sales the week UGBC did the giveaways, with lots of students coming in. Coufos said given the opportunity, White Mountain would provide gift certificates through UGBC again.

“Yeah everything worked out well and, you know, we were happy to do it and just be more, as much connected to BC as possible,” Coufos said. “And, yeah, I mean it was all a very positive experience.”

Guma said that he wanted to highlight the work of everyone involved, particularly Ellen McDonald—manager of ticket operations at Robsham Theater—Robsham Theater staff, Acampora, Coufos, and UGBC as a whole. 

“I recognize that this is not the way UGBC has done business in the past and quite frankly I don’t care,” Guma said. “This makes people happy and … if we can play a small part in that, then, you know, that’s a win in my book.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

February 22, 2021