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Maverick Stampede leads freshman students to Downtown Grand Junction

Colorado Mesa University’s incoming freshmen were introduced to Downtown Grand Junction by The Dash. Students converged on Main Street using the free transit route as they rushed to complete the Tacoparty Trifecta — an event that provided students with free Tacoparty tacos upon visitation of the CMU art gallery, 437CO. The effort helped familiarize CMU freshmen with the arts, amenities and culture offered in the downtown area.

“Getting 150 university freshmen moving in the same direction isn’t an easy task,” said Grand Valley Transit Mobility Manager Sarah Brooks. “We had the The Dash route running with three busses throughout the evening so that we were we able to get them to and from campus quickly and safely, and also introduce them to a free, alternative mode of transportation.”

The CMU Art Galley 437CO is located downtown and partnered with Tacoparty for the event where students who visited both places received a complementary taco named after the university.

“Having the students in the restaurant was tons of fun and we were proud to be the first food they tasted while downtown,” said Josh Nierberg, owner and founder of Tacoparty. Nierberg is adding an extension of the CMU art gallery into his restaurant to celebrate student and culinary art. Carlson Vineyards and Kannah Creek Brewery are also underwriters of 437CO and will be supporting student artwork in the CMU gallery throughout 2019.

CMU Assistant Vice President for Student and Faculty Success Aparna Palmer, PhD, helped organize the event along with the newly hired Director of Student Life Shanae Mundee. Mundee explained that integrating students into the extended community is a small but meaningful way that CMU sets up students for academic success.

“Student life is a part of encouraging community-minded living,” said Mundee. “Introducing incoming freshmen to our downtown community is important, and the fact that students now have a convenient and complementary source of transportation makes the area accessible to them all semester.”

The Dash is a partnership between CMU, Grand Valley Transit, the Grand Junction Airport Authority, the Horizon Drive District and the City of Grand Junction. The route runs among the many partners and provides student access to key commercial and art districts throughout the community.

“The event with students was a wonderful success,” said Palmer. Overall, we had around 130 students ride The Dash and around 50 students completed the Tacoparty Trifecta by visiting all three locations.

Assistant Professor of Art History at CMU and Director of 437CO Meghan Bissonnette, PhD, was pleased to see so many students familiarize themselves with the gallery so early in their educational journey.

“The fact that we have partners like Grand Valley Transit, Carlson Vineyards and others who value student art is going to be a meaningful opportunity for students and a great way to strengthen Downtown Grand Junction,” said Bissonnette.

CMU Vice President for Student Services John Marshall oversees student life and noted that the downtown event was one of among many events that will ensure freshman students' initial experience at CMU puts them in a position to complete their educational goals with "health, safety, academic success and community top-of-mind."

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Written by David Ludlam