During the past five years, IU Southeast has provided each student with a universal card that can serve many purposes, known as the UCard.
Since the implementation of the UCard, administration at IU Southeast has made the UCard the only form of payment accepted on campus besides cash. Debit and credit cards cannot be used at dining services, vending machines or in the coffee shops.
“The UCard became live in January of 2008. A decision was made by campus administration to implement a campus card service program with multiple functions in conjunction with opening our on campus housing program,” Melissa Hill, campus card manager, said. “The goal was add a convenience to students by creating an all-in-one card system that could be used for security access, identification, payment services, on and off campus, and library card.”
There are 14 local businesses that are currently accepting UCard, such as the Arby’s and Save-A-Step on Grant-Line Road. Hill said that they would love to add more.
“They have up to a full calendar year to use the funds or they can request a refund for a $15 dollar charge,” Hill said. “After one full year of zero payment transactions, then the balance is charged a $3 dollar per month fee.”
According to the UCard website, students will be charged for inactivity, and there will be a fee assessed with closing the account.
IU Southeast currently owns all vending machines on campus, and for debit card readers to be installed, Coke would have to own the vending machines.
There are many reasons why dining services does not accept debit cards. First, they are trying to wipe out a deficit that they have had for four years, and debit card fees cost dining services $25,000 per year.
Students can deposit funds from their debit or credit card onto their UCard which is recommended by card services.
“We do not want to raise prices to cover this expense, and we can’t charge credit card customers more than cash or UCard customers.” Hill said. “We like our current hours of operation and do not want to reduce hours to fund credit card fees.”
Debit cards could come back to campus at some point in the future.
“We hope to bring credit cards back at some point. In the future when the economics make sense,” Hill said.“Dining services are very close to breaking even so students are getting what they pay for.”
“I absolutely never use my UCard and I never will. I’m not sure how it even works,” Joey Scroggy, criminal justice senior, said. “All I know is it prevents me from using my debit card.”
By RAYMOND SHUTT