UCard system restricts students’ money

IUS Horizon

Sav-A-Step displays a sign stating “adult items” can not be purchased with the UCard at their store.

Students interested in purchasing condoms, alcohol, lottery tickets or tobacco products from the local Sav-A-Step on Grant Line Road are out of luck if they are planning on using their UCards.

Like many other local businesses, Sav-A-Step is now accepting the UCard, as many of their customers are IUS students. Unfortunately, these businesses are under a contract with IU Southeast banning “adult products” from students purchasing with a UCard.

IU Southeast is being disrespectful to its students by mandating what students can and cannot purchase with the money they earn.

If this were high school, the restriction of alcohol and tobacco products would be reasonable, since there are age limits and legal issues associated with those products.

However, this is a university, and we are all adults. IU Southeast is made up of educated people capable of making their own decisions with their own money.

According to Melissa Hill, campus card manager, any business accepting the UCard must first sign a merchant agreement stating it will not allow transactions with the UCard selling these “adult products.”

“The IU Legal Department in Bloomington mandates that all contracts be the same throughout all IU off-campus merchants,” Hill said.

Kiply Drew, associate general counsel at Indiana University, said the reasoning for the restrictions on certain items is because they do not reflect the positive academic mission of the university.

Because the IU logo is placed on the front of the UCard, Drew said items bought while using the UCard are associated with the university.

Since when has IU Southeast not encouraged the use of condoms and other “adult items?”

Obviously alcohol and cigarettes are not encouraged since they are not permitted on campus, but condoms, along with other sex products, have been passed out at nearly every student-focused event.

Everyone has witnessed sororities, fraternities and other organizations passing out these products to students. Multi-colored, fruit flavored, extra-large — condoms are not a shy subject at IU Southeast.

IUS students are not allowed to purchase alcohol with their UCards.

Still, students are not allowed to discretely purchase these items with the UCard at convenience stores.

“Students who are of age can certainly buy those products with cash, with a different debit card [or] with a credit card,” Drew said.

IU students are encouraged to put their money on their UCards through promotions and other advertising strategies.

None of these advertisements or the information on the website includes disclaimers to students about how they cannot purchase any items available at these businesses.

Right now, the top three UCard customers at Mark’s Feed Store receive a $10 gift card and T-shirt. Before students load up a UCard to win some extra cash, they should think about what they will be purchasing at the rib joint. If beer is on the menu, they will be paying for it out-of-pocket.

Students will not get that extra money they put on the UCards, either. If they already put the money on the card, it is too late. There is no refunding of cash available on the UCard. Worse yet, an inactive UCard takes a $3 charge every month.

There goes that extra $10 won at Mark’s Feed Store.

Where is the line drawn?

The term “adult product” is left open to interpretation. I do not see condoms as a product that would give IU Southeast a bad reputation, but, obviously, Sav-A-Step does.

What about cold medicine, tampons or energy drinks?

There has been a lot of debate about those products’ usage, as well. What if those products were added to the vague list associated with the term “adult products” restricted from purchase with the UCard?

Personally, I am not going to put my money anywhere that can restrict where or what I buy. I have a Visa card, and IU Southeast is basically the only facility where I cannot use it.

Cash is accepted in the cafeteria, vending machines and anywhere on campus the UCard is accepted, and IU Southeast cannot charge me $3 a month because I did not spend it.

By BRITTANY POWELL

Features Editor

bripowel@ius.edu