iCard could soon be iDebit, provide more choices for students

Travis Perry

Greenbacks, clams, dead presidents or cash: no matter what people call it, candidates for Washburn Student Government Association’s president and vice president are looking to give students more ways to spend their dollar.

Referred to by some as the Washburn Debit Card, the basic concept is to give students more variety not only in their meal plan choices but in how the funds loaded on their iCard are spent. The proposed program would allow students to use either their Bod Bucks or meal plan money at area businesses. While primarily geared toward students living on campus who are required to purchase a meal and Bod Bucks plan, the program would be an option available to all students enrolled at the university.

“I think it’s excellent, because it’s a part of the community instead of keeping it in-house and not sharing except with out-of-state vendors,” said Don Leftwich, co-owner of World Cup Espresso, about to the proposed debit card concept.

Leftwich, who estimated that students comprise 15 percent of his customer base, said Washburn students are a big part of his business and thought this was a great way to help give students more variety.

Duke Divine, director of business services for the Memorial Union, explained this is not a foreign idea to Washburn. In fact, the university considered something similar about six years ago.

However, it is the fact that Washburn does keep funds in-house that allows it to provide the services it already does for its students, said Divine. Current bonds on the Memorial Union run $200,000 per year, and it is primarily through dining services revenue that Washburn can afford to provide the Memorial Union to students.

“With the meal money, that’s a room and board contract,” said Divine. “[With] the Bod Bucks, though, there’s all kinds of possibilities.”

Both candidate teams support the idea that this is a feasible goal and would highly benefit students. Amy Billinger, junior history major and running mate to Whitney Philippi, said issues like this are not about the quality of current options for students but simply about providing more variety. Patrick Muenks, junior political science major and WSGA presidential candidate, sees the implementation of the system as a matter of advocating and lobbying.

The most likely method by which this would be achieved would be through partnering with a bank. US Bank has already expressed interest. The bank would help re-card students interested in the program, up to 2,000 cards, according to Divine. The university would then have to pay for students past the 2,000 mark who wished to participate. A program like this could also cause price fluctuations and other issues on campus.

“If that Bod Bucks money were shared, there would be fewer things we could do here,” said Divine.

Ultimately, Divine said he was happy to hear new ideas such as these coming from students, and encouraged those wanting to push such a program forward to voice their concerns to him about what could and should be done.