Denied: credit only for Marshall Center, Campus Rec

With the swipe of a debit or credit card at the Phyllis P. Marshall Center or Campus Recreation, students can get nearly all the merchandise or sports equipment they want.

Just don’t try cutting a check, or paying with cash.

The extension of the University’s gradual elimination of cash collection points to the Marshall Center and Campus Recreation has chafed some in student government, who worry the new mandate, which funnels all cash payments to the University through the cashiers office, will cut into their bottom line and inconvenience students.

The policy has no effect on cash and check payment policies of campus food vendors, such as Aramark, which runs all the campus restaurants.

Also exempt are the Barnes and Noble Bookstore and other companies who sell on campus but are not owned by the University.

But students are out of luck if they want to use a little green to rent outdoor equipment at Campus Rec or buy the “Our Shirts” t-shirts at the Marshall Center.

“I just think it’s unnecessary,” said SG comptroller Thomas King. “I understand the university is trying to improve efficiencies, but this is just going to inconvenience students. From my understand there’s never been a problem with cash collection at the Marshall Center, and its unfair to make us guilty by association with the English department.”

The closing of academic departments and business operations on campus as spots for cash and check payments began in January of 2006, one month after $275,000 in cash and undeposited checks was found inside an office in the English Language Institute. Within a month, 159 collection units were reduced to 36, and more have been eliminated over the last 16 months.

“We feel that this system is a safer way of paying,” USF Comptroller Nick Trivunovich said. “There’s less hassles, fewer long lines. We’ve found that few students today carry cash anyway. Most have debit cards and prefer to pay that way.”

At the Marshall Center, honors sashes, shirts from SG or the Campus Activities Board, deposits on room rentals, as well as little things like helium balloons and posters, all now require cash payments. By the end of the month, the $5 payment for Our Bulls t-shirts, given a temporary exemption since the Marshall Center and Campus Rec were closed as cash collection points on August 22, will also require plastic.

Time will tell what kind of impact the new policy will have on the bottom line for SG and the Marshall Center, said Marshall Center Director Joe Synovec.

“It certainly impacts our operations and requires us to look at how to change things,” Synovec said.

At campus recreation, students and faculty can no longer use cash to buy anything but snacks and sodas from vending machines.

Renting sports and outdoor equipment, paying for memberships or day passes for guests, getting a drink or having a quick gnosh before or after a workout now requires a debit or credit card, unless the payment goes through the cashier’s office.

The inconvenience to students, who get most of Campus Recreation’s services free of charge, has been minimal, said Campus Rec Director Eric Hunter.

“People pay for just about everything with a card anyway,” said Hunter. “Actually it’s been a good thing. Cash collection by students is something that can be a concern for us, and now we don’t need to worry about that anymore.”