Campus Cash waits until spring

Though the “Campus Cash” system will not be ready for the fall semester as was hoped, the University has officially committed to setting up the program, a YCC brainchild in which Yalies will be able to use funds on their student ID cards at more on-campus facilities as well as off-campus restaurants.

The program will likely be in place by the beginning of the spring semester, Associate Vice President for Student Financial and Administrative Services Ernst Huff said Thursday. Campus Cash will allow students to consolidate disparate accounts, such as printing charges, laundry charges, Eli Bucks and FLEX points, and pay for meals at places such as Au Bon Pain, Bulldog Burrito and Ivy Noodle using only their Yale IDs. Huff told the News in January that his department hoped to have the program ready by September, but he said Thursday that some logistical problems still need to be solved.

An administrative team is currently determining exactly which goods and services could be added to the Campus Cash program and which restaurants it will seek to recruit. Huff said he and other project managers have spoken with several area merchants but have not decided whether to negotiate with them directly or to hire a consultant to bring restaurant owners on board. If all goes according to plan, the new system will not put any added strain on the University budget, he said.

“We’re hopeful [Campus Cash] doesn’t cost anything, because the big investment was in … the technology that manages the flow of money, and the University invested in that several years ago,” Huff said. “It’s the same system that manages access to dining halls … Now it’s just a matter of leveraging the resource.”

The team has not yet decided how many restaurants it hopes to include in the program, he said.

Former Yale College Council Treasurer Dave Roosth ’09, who lobbied administrators to create such a program last year, said although he had hoped that the Campus Cash system would be operational by the start of the academic year, he is pleased that progress has been made.

“The University works on a different timeline than students do,” he said. “We’re here for four years, and we want things to happen really fast … I’d love to be able to use my Yale ID card everywhere around campus already, but I realize that’s going to take the University a little longer.”

Roosth said he has not yet decided whether he will continue to work with administrators on the project or remain involved in the YCC this year.

The Council is looking forward to helping the University implement the Campus Cash program, which members of last year’s council proposed in October 2006, but it will not devote significant energy to the concept’s further development, YCC Secretary Dave Narotsky ’09 said.

Some students said Campus Cash should remain a top YCC priority. Josh Garcia ’09 said the Council should keep pressuring the administration to make the program a reality because it directly affects the entire student body.

“One of the most deficient aspects of student life at Yale is the inflexibility of the meal plans,” Garcia said. “I know the University has a lot to handle, but you’d think it wouldn’t take them this long to set up a system that most students agree is a good idea.”

An Internet poll of 983 students conducted by the YCC last fall indicated that 92.5 percent of students favor making student ID cards an acceptable payment at more eateries around campus and that 91.4 percent of students favor consolidating the various student payment accounts into one.

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