A common goal on the platforms of Undergraduate Student Government presidential tickets has been to extend the use of USCard to local businesses. But despite the interest of students and off-campus restaurants in using USCard discretionary money for off-campus purchases, the USC Auxiliary Services staff said this change seems unlikely.
“The underlying assumption for parents is that the money is going to be used on campus,” said Mark Ewalt, director of operations of Auxiliary Services. “Not on alcohol, not on any restaurant. It’s been on campus for a long time, and there are many credit cards that serve that purpose.”
Many students say using USCard off campus would make purchasing easier.
“It would be more convenient for the university and the entire community if we were on the same system,” said Laura Lindeen, a sophomore majoring in psychology and linguistics.
Ewalt said even though the underlying notion is that discretionary money is to be used on-campus, he does understand why students would find it convenient to be able to use their cards at off-campus locations.
“I totally get the convenience side, but USC has got to ask, is this a compelling enough reason to extend the service beyond the confines of the campus,” Ewalt said. “We get it, we understand it, but is that USC’s responsibility? That’s kind of where the line is drawn.”
According to Bernie Moreno, assistant director of operations for USCard Services, it would be relatively easy to enable restaurants off-campus to accept USCcard for purchases.
“From a technology standpoint it’s doable,” Moreno said. “A lot of this comes down to whether USC wants us to do this or not.”
Moreno said despite the relatively easy transition, USC still needs to think about its place in the wider L.A. community.
“The questions are how the university sees our role and how the university sees its role,” Moreno said. “How does USC see itself in the community and does the extension of discretionary change that idea and affect that idea?”
A representative from Seattle’s Best Coffee said it would be interested in this method of payment if USC gave it the opportunity.
“If it was a possibility, this is something we would be interested in, but I don’t have the authority to say yes or no,” said Katie Watkins, assistant manager of Seattle’s Best Coffee.
George Kim, manager, director and co-owner of Soy Japanese Grill and Roll, said he believes USC should poll student opinion on using discretionary money at off-campus locations.
“I’d love the opportunity to join USC and be a part of discretionary funds,” Kim said. “On campus, there might be some resistance. But I think the students should take a vote because I’ve heard the interest level on that is very positive.”
Moreno said he’s worried about selectivity of the businesses where students can use USCard.
Aside from restaurants off-campus showing interest in expanding the USCard services, many students are equally interested.
Christen Lazarcheck, a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism, said she doesn’t like carrying her wallet with her off-campus, so the option of using discretionary funds would simplify the problem.
“Students just need to question whether they feel more comfortable going off campus with their wallets or with just their discresh cards,” Lazarcheck said.
Other students however, said they wouldn’t use their USCards even if they could because they don’t use discretionary.
“I don’t use mine because I can’t load [discretionary dollars] with foreign cards, so it would be worthless for me to use off-campus,” said Katie Maslechko, a sophomore majoring in policy, planning, and development.
Ultimately, Ewalt said, it is much easier to manage the system when the boundaries are specifically drawn to only include USC establishments.
“It makes sense to have it on campus, that’s what it was designed for,” Ewalt said.