The Students’ Association Senate approved a resolution on Monday, supporting the SA Executive branches’ call for the university to change the way declining balance funds are displayed on student I.D. cards.

Currently, bonus dollars associated with UR Gold Declining Balance plans and leftover balances from the fall semester are not displayed until the plan has run out. The resolution asks the university revert to last semester’s system, which displayed the bonus dollars with the entire plan.

Junior and SA Chief of Staff Lonny Mallach called the changes “ludicrous,” saying that “students who are customers [of the dining plan] are being misled.”

To demonstrate the illusion, Mallach compared the situation to a debit account at a bank.

“Imagine how you would feel if you went to your bank and you swiped your debit card and found you had $200 missing from your account,” he said. “When confronting the bank, what would your response be if they told you the $200 was in a separate bonus dollar account for your own good? Your response to them would be that it is your money and you’d want to spend it as you saw fit.”

Director of Purchasing and Operations Quintin Roach defended the change, saying that it would allow UR to better serve students needs and improve the accounting practices of the Purchasing Department.

“We found ourselves in a situation last semester where it was extremely difficult to track which funds came out of which account,” Roach said. “The creation of separate will help us track funds in a more economical manner.”

To publicize the change, UR relied heavily on an advertisement published in the Jan. 24 Campus Times. The advertisement, in the form of a letter from One Card Manager Troy Beason, set to inform students of the change and reassure them that their bonus dollars still remained available.

“Don’t worry,” Beason said, “your bonus dollars will be as easily available to you as ever. Once your UR Gold Declining account is depleted, your bonus dollars will automatically take over.”

Mallach, along with many of the senators at Monday’s meeting, expressed anger at the lack of notification given to students affected by the change. Their main complaint was that if students did not know they had the extra money in their bonus accounts they wouldn’t adjust their budgets accordingly, causing wasted money at the end of the year.

“It is a great way to scam UR students into thinking they have no money left,” sophomore and At-Large Senator Lucas McCarthy said at Monday’s meeting.

Many students seemed unaware that the change had taken place confirming the senate’s major concerns.

“I haven’t heard about the change,” junior Laura Schimdt said.

Junior Matt Tremblay said he wasn’t aware anything was different with his Gold Declining Plan this semester as compared to the fall.

Some students weren’t really concerned with the separate account.

“Honestly I don’t worry about it because I don’t have to pay for it,” sophomore Sarah Pyle said.

The dining plans have been in a state of flux since last spring when UR simplified meal plan options by eliminating area specific requirements in favor of class specific restrictions. The new plans also eliminated a fixed cost fee for dining built into the plans and made blocks more flexible.

To encourage students to buy large declining balance plans, percentage bonus were built into the structure – with plans between $600 and $899 a semester getting a five percent bonus, plans between $900 and $1,199 a semester getting a 10 percent bonus, and anything over $1,200 getting a 15 percent bonus.

Sophomores have the most dollars in separate accounts because to have a declining plan, they are mandated to buy at least $1,200 of declining a semester. Mallach said in the sophomore class alone over a hundred thousand dollars may be obscured in the bonus accounts.

“It adds up to be so much money, and no one really knows that it there,” Mallach said.

Class of 2004 Senator Peter Ordal is fairly confident the issue will be resolved in the coming weeks.

“Troy Beason and Lonny have worked well in the past,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll have a positive outcome.”

Ordal hopes Senate’s resolution will be the first step to eliminating the bonus accounts all-together, but if that goal is unsuccessful, they want UR to better inform all students of the change.

“They switched the system, so they need to make sure that every one who is effected knows they made the change,” Mallach said.

Students who are unsure of how much money is currently on their bonus account should contact the Customer Service Center at x53975.

Hildebrandt can be reached at thildebrandt@campustimes.org



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