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Published: Wednesday, 3/3/2004

Debit card in works for BGSU by this fall

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - George Loper loves the fact that Bowling Green State University students and faculty like to stop by his local coffeehouse for a latte.

He hopes, though, that a plan by university officials to offer a debit card by the fall will mean they ll be willing to stay for dessert.

BGSU is in the final stages of working out a partnership with Uptown Bucks of Oxford, Ohio, to provide a debit card that would be accessed through the BGSU identification card.

Called “City Bucks,” the program would be available to students, staff, and faculty. It would be maintained by Uptown Bucks, which could charge participating merchants a service fee of no more than 4.75 percent on all City Bucks transactions. Alcohol sales will not be permitted on accounts.

The debit card would be similar to programs at Miami and Ohio universities. The University of Toledo has had a university-based debit card program since 1997. UT students can use it at 18 local merchants, said Greg Graham, manager of retail operations at UT.

One reason for the potential two-year agreement, discussed yesterday during a meeting of the BGSU board of trustees, is interest by state legislators in getting community businesses more access to students, said Chris Dalton, BGSU s senior vice president for finance and administration.

“Merchants around the state in college towns are trying to get access to student discretionary spending,” he said.

Chip Myles, who owns a pizza pub and Dairy Queen near campus, said such a move would be a big help for local merchants.

“I think that would be fantastic,” he said. “I don t see how it wouldn t encourage them to try different places.”

Mr. Loper said it s about time. He owns Cosmo s Coffeehouse in downtown Bowling Green and attributes about half his business to people associated with the university.

“I ve always wondered why students don t have more choices,” he said.

Jim Wasil, a BGSU freshman from Mount Vernon, Ohio, who is familiar with the issue because of his involvement in student government, said students will appreciate it too.

“Being able to go to Taco Bell or Burger King or places like that beats dining services,” he said.

In other business yesterday, the trustees voted to give a housing allowance to President Sidney Ribeau. He has not been able to live in the BGSU presidential house since November, 2002, because of plans to renovate or rebuild it. A decision of what to do with it has not been made.

So far, the university has paid $2,630 a month for Dr. Ribeau to live in a condominium. When that lease expires at the end of the month, he will be able to choose his own interim accommodations and pay for it himself, Trustee Michael Marsh said. The exact amount of the allowance has not been determined yet, he said.



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