Campus card program to expand after initial success

Puneet Kollipara

The campus card program at Washington University has grown significantly in the past year and may continue to grow with new features in the works.

According to Assistant to the Director of Operations in Dining Services and Campus Card Steering Committee Chair Paul Schimmele, the campus card program has flourished this year.

“I’m pleased with the progress we have made,” Schimmele said. “I’m very pleased with the response we get from students. The future is very bright.”

Further additions to the campus card program will include laundry and vending in new campus buildings, functionality at certain student events and possibly a centralized office.

From July 31, 2007 through March 31, 2008, both the campus card account and the meal plan account have logged a combined three million transactions, with an average of about 410,000 transactions per month or 13,000 per day, according to Schimmele.

The campus card account was launched at the beginning of last academic year and is separate from meal plan accounts. Designed for miscellaneous incidental expenses on campus, it initially allowed students to pay for laundry machines in all Residential Life-owned housing, vending machines across campus and printers in the library.

At the beginning of this academic year, the card expanded to on-campus stores, including Bear Necessities, the Danforth Campus Bookstore, the Edison Theatre box offices and three dining locations within the School of Medicine. The campus card account is also functional in 52 campus vending machines, and the 560 Building box offices.

Students will also be able to use the account in campus facilities set to open in the fall, including the Danforth University Center, vending and laundry in the Village East apartments and vending machines in Seigle Hall, the new social science and law building.

As part of a joint initiative between Student Union (SU), Dining Services and Engineering Council (EnCouncil), the campus card was also tested in a pilot program at two Cheap Lunches, which are hosted every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by EnCouncil in the Lopata Gallery. Cheap Lunch features pizza, chips, cookies and drinks for less than $5.

Prior to the pilot program, students had to pay for their food in cash. Senior Jim Wexler, former treasurer for EnCouncil, says that the pilot program was a success, with roughly 40 of 500 attendees using their campus card account at the two times the program was tested.

“It works fluidly, and we didn’t have any problems with running the machine,” Wexler said.

“The idea behind it is not a means of gaining revenue,” sophomore Troy Cole, co-chair of Cheap Lunch, said. “EnCouncil does it as a service to the University as a whole. Our implementation of the campus card is only to make it more accessible to the student body at large so we can serve more people. A lot of people don’t carry cash.”

Wexler hopes that EnCouncil will continue using the campus card account as a method of payment at Cheap Lunch.

“I definitely see that happening,” Wexler said. “I’m a graduating senior but if I were still here next year I’d be in favor of continuing it. I thought it was a great idea.”

Schimmele also considers the recent pilot program with Team 31 T-shirts to be a success, but he is uncertain as to what extent the campus card program will expand to serve student events. Dining Services will begin discussions with SU this summer to discuss the possibilities.

“Whether we continue or expand this will depend on a number of things. We really haven’t fully discussed how this affects our staffing,” Schimmele said. “And we haven’t begun any discussions yet with SU. I’m hopeful that we can get this worked out for general SU group use for next fall.”

Schimmele also hinted at the possibility of a centralized card office in Mallinckrodt Student Center, which will be renovated over the summer. Schimmele believes a centralized office could make it easier for students to solve problems with their ID cards, but the University is still considering the financial impact of an office.

“Right now, depending on the question or problem, an individual may need to go to one or two of four different offices,” Schimmele said. “[Having a card office] would be significantly more efficient organizationally.”

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