Last week, UR launched the URos program, the revamped version of the Flex system. In additiion to existing on-campus use, URos will be valid at participating off-campus retailers.
The current list of retailers that are participating in the program is comprised of businesses popular among students: Pellegrino’s, Center Stage Caf, The Distillery, Subway, Quizno’s, Aja Noodle and Mt. Hope Diner.
Ten or 12 businesses were projected to sign up to participate at the start of the program or shortly thereafter, but so far only the seven businesses are involved.
Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf said that, of the 24 businesses contacted, the aforementioned seven are on board and only six have turned the program down.
The remaining businesses that were asked may decide to join and, if they do, will be added in the future. He said that he will not add any businesses beyond the original 24 until the group can evaluate the success of the program.
“There are a few from our original list that will probably come on line soon,” he said. “We want to see how it goes before we expand.”
Included in the other businesses on the list are CVS and Starbucks, the top vote-getters in a student poll asking which businesses students would like to see involved in the program. However, the focus is primarily on local businesses.
“There are several businesses that are a part of larger corporations, so the decision-making process takes a bit longer,” Schauf said.
The program has gotten off to a slow start at the participating businesses. Despite advertising about the change, Aja Noodle has not seen a large number of students take advantage of URos.
“Right now, the amount of people using it is slow,” the Manager at Aja Noodle Kelly Lane said. “However, we are expecting it to pick up.”
The current Flex accounts are available for non-dining related uses in retail areas on campus, including the bookstore, the Common Market, computer sales and vending machines.
The off-campus functionality of the new URos account does not extend to the club meals and declining dollars that are a part of students’ meal plans.
“Meal plans are tax-free. Declining dollars, as a part of the meal plan, are tax free dollars,” Schauf said. “New York State tax law mandates that these funds may only be applied to meals prepared on campus.”
The initiative has been largely student-oriented, originating from the plans of Students’ Association Senators who worked closely with Schauf last spring. The change of name from Flex to URos, which is intended to add a University-specific identity to the system, was debated in the SA Senate.
“I think that one of the most exciting parts of this program is that students have been very involved in what this program looks like,” Schauf said. “Now we look forward to getting the students out and able to utilize it.” Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.
Additional reporting by Andrea Pomaranski.