UI to make dining credits more flexible

By Vivienne Henning

Come January, University students will no longer have to trek back to the Ikenberry for lunch in between classes. At the start of the spring semester students can use their meal plans outside of University dining halls.

The Lunch Bunch, a committee composed of students has been meeting throughout the semester to discuss expanding the use of extra credits stored on student i-cards.

The extra credit expansion program — still in its pilot stage — will be implemented at University dining halls, the ARC , the Quad Shop and the Starbucks in Illini Union. Brian Farber, executive assistant to Kenneth Ballom, the associate vice chancellor of student affairs, said the initial expansion is a way for the Student Affairs office to test the program’s infrastructure.

Currently, the extra credits — which hold a value of $1 each — can be used in resident hall laundry rooms, dining halls and 57 North in the Ikenberry Commons. The committee is still waiting to hear feedback on what to call the program.

Farber said the program was made in response to students’ desires. Students said they were aware of programs similar to this on other campuses, and wanted the same options at the University.

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“Rather than using any of the cafe credits or meals that students get in their dining program, they could add money to this extra credits program that would be able to be used at some vendors like those in the Illini Union and in campus recreation,” Farber said.

Farber said the program is still in the pilot stage because the committee needs to get a better understanding of what the volume will be and how to make the business model work. The committee needs to monitor the program to make sure all transactions are billed appropriately.

“Many of (the venues) have significant volume, then we’ll have a chance to see our capacity,” he said. “Based on what we hope to be a huge success and (how) the software performs, there’ll be a rolling adoption with other venues in the student auxiliary system.”

The committee encourages students to provide them with feedback so that they can continue to build the program. Farber said they want know what kind of functions students need from the program and what would make it more user-friendly and accessible to them.

“We want it to be something that students would use and trust, and that their families would trust,” Farber said.

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