With a map and a list of eateries in hand, the search for clues began in downtown San Jose on Friday, Sept. 3 when for the first time the university held a scavenger hunt that went beyond the campus grounds.
Six students showed up for the hunt and left the Student Involvement offices, a place for students to learn about campus activities located on the first floor of Clark Hall, in three teams.
"It's an opportunity for new students to get to know downtown San Jose better and learn what businesses are available to them," said Laurel Gardea, organizer of the event.
Gardea, a graduate student working to get her teaching credential, said she set up the scavenger hunt in hopes of bringing new and transferring students out to learn what local businesses offer to students.
They were given a list of 32 favorite places among students, eight of which were represented by stars, she said.
She said students went to different businesses, following a map around downtown that was unmarked, save for eight stars denoting different locations.
They needed to ask questions about what the restaurants or locations offered in terms of discounts and special offers for students, she said.
The places will tell you about what they offer and may even give you free samples, she said.
Colin Blower, a junior computer science major, said he came after the promise of free food.
Junior engineering major Christine Sherer said she found out about the event at one of the Fall Welcome Day events and just happened to be on campus with some free time between classes at the time of the hunt.
Freshman animation major Ariana Barton said, "I thought it would be a good way to explore downtown."
Heading west of campus, the first stop on the map was Grande Pizzeria on Fourth and San Carlos Streets, Gardea said.
Miguel Barrita, manager of the pizzeria for three years, said Gardea came to him to be a part of the scavenger hunt and he said yes.
"This place has been here for 30 years and we get a lot of students who come here, especially since we now have happy hour twice a day," he said.
Mindy Hoyt, an employee of Polar Ice, a frozen yogurt shop, said she thought the scavenger hunt was a good idea.
"It's pretty cool. Pretty neat," she said.
Ruben Mendoza, shift manager at the Pita Pit, said he thought the scavenger hunt was an interesting idea.
“We are open until 3:00 a.m.," he said. "Students find us after class or a long night of studying when they are hungry and we are one of the few places open this late."
Loves Cupcakes manager Vanessa Zarazua said the scavenger hunt is free marketing for the shop.
After completing the hunt, Barton said, "We learned a lot of places here offer student discounts.”
Sherer said she knows downtown better now.
There was some confusion about the date and time for the scavenger hunt, Gardea said.
“I found out this morning that Camera 12 doesn’t open until three, and I’m sure you will be done with the scavenger hunt by then,” she said to the students as they headed out.
Gardea said this year went well but next time there will be better communication between her and the chosen businesses.
She said two of the restaurants were confused by the day and time, and they didn’t give the clues to students when they showed up.
There are just a few minor problems that will be fixed for next year, she said.