Following a week-long survey posted on The Hive Web site to gauge students’ opinions on where they like to shop and where they would like to see Flex accepted off-campus, plans are in the works to have Flex available off-campus by the start of the next school year.
“I liked the way the survey went – we got a lot of good information from students,” Director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf said. “We are always looking to get feedback from students when making decisions like this.”
Of the 347 students that responded to the survey, most noted that the place they would most like to see Flex accepted is at CVS. Among other businesses that were voted on and ranked were The Distillery, Plum House, Yummy Garden, Starbucks, Pelligrino’s, Papa John’s and Wegmans.
According to the survey, 80 percent of students overall answered “yes” or “maybe” to the first question, about whether this was a program they would want.
Of the freshman class, 60 percent answered “yes” or “maybe.”
“We haven’t talked to the businesses yet, but that will be the next step for me,” Schauf said. “We are still working on making sure that we have all the processes down in place for managing this program. We need to make sure that whatever system we use will tie into the current system and that the flow of money for customers is smooth.”
Blackboard, the system that is currently being used to manage the UR’s “one-card” system, will likely be the one to take on this project as well.
CVS already has a corporate relationship with Blackboard.
The survey not only measured which stores students enjoyed shopping at most, but also what areas they frequent and what they enjoy shopping for.
In addition, it was aimed to assess how effective the RED program has been thus far.
“Mt. Hope and Park Ave. were the most popular, followed by Eastman and Marketplace Mall/Wegmans,” senator and sophomore Greg Meditz said, who headed the senate’s involvement in getting Flex off-campus.
Meditz is also thrilled with the survey results.
“The results are good enough to go ahead and use them for choosing businesses,” he said.
The off-campus businesses in Brook’s Landing and those renting out Eastman spaces, like Java’s, are all going to be offered the option of accepting Flex.
“This is mostly political,” Meditz said. “These businesses are associated with the university. Therefore we want them all to implement this program.”
On the survey, students also had the opportunity to suggest a new name for Flex, to reflect its new abilities. Students gave 117 suggestions for the name and in the fall the senate will vote on its new identity. The person who suggested the name will win an iPod.
In addition, in September an advertising campaign will be initiated to inform students of this new program and to get them excited about it.
Next year is the pilot year to test the plan, to ensure that students are using it and that the administration can handle it. Assuming that everything runs smoothly, or that the necessary changes are made, those who have been involved in its development are eager to see where it will go in the future.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this,” Meditz said. “The one thing that is the most exciting is its potential for the future. There are so many different options that it’s daunting, from dining to transportation to parking. There will be a new wealth invested in Brook’s Landing. We could change the bus schedules if new stores become more popular. We will get people off campus and become tighter with the community. We are achieving the goals of the school in a substantial, tangible matter that benefits students, parents and the city alike.” Paret can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.