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Flex Cash: Student Choice or School Choice?

By Autumn Beyor; For the Clock
On November 24, 2017

Flex Cash: Student Choice or School Choice? 

Autumn Beyor

For the Clock

ambeyor@plymouth.edu 

Uninformed or Unheard? Plymouth State students are disappointed with the new policy changes regarding FlexCash. If you have you tried to purchase books at the bookstore this year or have gone to pick up your Chase Street order only to have them reject your Student ID, you’re one of many. Students across campus have been expressing their contempt with new policy changes.

Lately, the buzz about FlexCash has been the talk of the town. Take a walk around campus. Ask random students how they feel about the changes in FlexCash. I did, and the responses I got were nothing short of exactly what I expected. When asked about how she felt about the change in FlexCash, a Junior who wishes to remain anonymous told me, “The beginning of the fall semester I went to the bookstore planning on paying for my books with flex as usual and my ID was rejected. I was told that FlexCash is not able to be used at the bookstore anymore. So there I was, at the register with books I needed for classes and no wallet to pay for them. I had to come up with the money elsewhere, which was not planned for and definitely put a dent in my bank account. My books are bettering my education and now I can’t purchase them as easily, which confuses me.” When asked about how they felt about the changes in Flex- Cash, a Freshman who also wishes to remain anonymous told me, “I like the idea of flex considering I have no previous basis to go off from, but I feel like it’s a downgrade from the way it used to be and I don’t understand the reasoning behind the change. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Being previously accepted at many of the most popular locations in downtown Plymouth, FlexCash has long been an attraction for PSU stu- dents. However, many students don’t understand the difference between the two types of FlexCash available to them. Board FlexCash is purchased with a student’s meal plan and has recently been placed under restricted use. “Beginning Fall 2017 semester, BOARD FlexCash can be used only at on-campus food service venues, on-campus food and beverage vending machines, and in on-campus laundry equipment” (campus.plymouth.edu). These on-campus locations include Prospect Dining Hall, Union Grille, The Woods Cafe, The Commons (at Lamson Library), Daily Paws, Ice Rink Concessions, all campus laundry rooms, and ice skate entry and rentals. This type of FlexCash does not roll over into the next semester if not fully depleted.

Campus FlexCash is money that is added to a student’s account separate from a meal plan. This can be used at any participating downtown location as well as anywhere board FlexCash can be used. Current downtown participants include Baked Cafe & Bakery, Biederman’s Deli, Burrito Me, Cafe Monte Alto, Chase Street Market, Downtown Pizza, Hong Kong Garden, Subway, Main Street Station, and Mandarin Taste. You may also use Campus FlexCash at the school bookstore and in the Panther print shop. This type of FlexCash rolls over to the next semester if not fully depleted.

In a survey done through Survey-monkey on Facebook, current PSU students were asked three questions:

(1) Do you currently own BOARD FlexCash? 51.9 percent responded yes and 48.1 percent responded no. (2) Were you aware that BOARD FlexCash could only be used at Sodexo run locations prior to your purchase of it? 35.2 percent responded yes and 64.8 percent responded no. (3) Does the new FlexCash policy affect where you choose to eat and how often you eat there? 85.2 percent responded yes and 14.2 percent responded no. Students have altered their habits due to this unexpected and poorly advertised change. If a majority of the student populous is unaware of why or how a particular policy change occurred, something wrong has been done.

The question becomes, are we as students being given a choice in changes that matter or are we being told how it’s going to be? The student body needs to be properly notified of any policy changes that will potentially affect those attending PSU. Students had received an email notifying them of the change. But an email is all they saw of the change until their FlexCash payments were rejected in the fall. Plymouth State prides itself on student involvement and voice, but we need to ask ourselves if this is being carried out. I propose that the next time the school is to make a policy change that is going to have a direct impact on PSU students, Plymouth State take more noticeable actions to inform students before the change is constituted. This could mean conducting a campus wide survey or something as simple as advertising the policy change more clearly.

Our students are and should be the priority here at PSU, because ultimately our students are our future. It is crucial to keep our students informed. If students feel as if their opinions are heard, they will learn to share them more often, creating a much stronger sense of community on campus. This being said, as a student body we need to make sure that we are doing our part. Keep your eye out for important news and check your email often. Let your voice be heard even if it’s not asked for. Join student senate. Write a strongly worded letter. Do something to get your voice out there. A happy student body is a happy university. 

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