SHSU should work with Huntsville to accept Bearkat Bucks
Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 23:02
Is the status quo okay?
Bearkat Bucks and meal plans are a requirement of all freshman at Sam Houston State University. Unfortunately there is a divide on where they can be used.
Campus food locations accept the tender – except for the bookstore – as well as the Old Main Market dining hall. But unlike other universities with similar programs, no local businesses accept Bearkat Bucks. The university and local businesses should be cooperating with each other to make them available in more locations.
One way to do this is to adopt a similar meal plan program as the University of Texas at Austin. Rather than meal plans, they have Dine In Dollars that are an amalgamation of SHSU’s meal plan and Bearkat Bucks. It is a declining balance account that are only accepted in campus-owned locations that are in residence halls.
They also have Bevo Bucks that are a different type of declining balance similar to Bearkat Bucks. They are available in all 56 on-campus locations and 73 off-campus businesses that sign merchant agreements. On top of the ability to use Bevo Bucks at all campus locations - including food courts, the bookstore, convenience stores, etc. – they can be used at gas stations, tanning salons, barbershops, chain and fast food restaurants, and even a waxing salon.
If SHSU were to adopt a similar policy to this, students could use their meal plan declining balance to eat at any food location on campus, not just Old Main. If businesses in town and the university worked together, students might be able to use their Bearkat Bucks at Target to buy larger pants, because there are no healthy eating options on campus.
More health conscious off-campus eateries could pick up Bearkat Bucks and give students more options. It could also be cheaper for students. Some businesses offer weekly specials for Bevo Buck users that Huntsville businesses could do as well.
Using this method, or a similar one, has several benefits for the community and university. The university and citizens of Huntsville haven’t always gotten along. Taking proactive measures like this would show the city that the university actually wants to be a part of the community rather than a fiscal island that does its own thing.
It’s imperative that the Huntsville citizens and university get along to make SHSU a destination school for more than its classes. People don’t go to Texas A&M or UT just for the academics – although that is a major reason. They also go for the entertaining atmosphere that the locals help create. It’s a two-way street: Everyone must get along to make SHSU’s image better.
Adopting a dual-declining balance system would also be fiscally beneficial for students, the university and the local businesses. By offering incentives to get into the system – like more credit than the cash you put in, discounts at businesses and coupons – more people should buy in, thus increasing the university’s profit. This would attract students to buy in even if they aren’t required to have a meal plan. Local businesses that accept the credit also look more attractive because, in the minds of students, it doesn’t cost them money.
The current system is too restrictive and creates a barrier between the university and Huntsville that needs to be torn down. Dr. Gibson, tear down this wall.