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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Local shops want access to CatCards

    Pre-business freshman Tyler Shira uses his CatCard to buy his lunch from Brueggers Bagels employee and physiology junior Matthew Marquez in the Park Student Union yesterday afternoon.
    Pre-business freshman Tyler Shira uses his CatCard to buy his lunch from Bruegger’s Bagels employee and physiology junior Matthew Marquez in the Park Student Union yesterday afternoon.

    Within the next few weeks, the Marshall Foundation will be working with ASUA to create a way for UA students to use their CatCards at stores on University Boulevard.

    Jane McCollum, general manager of the Marshall Foundation, which holds many of the leases on University Boulevard, said she will be meeting with members of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona to discuss a new program that would expand students’ CatCard purchasing power to off-campus stores.

    “”It is not an option the university has given us yet …but I think our merchants will welcome that opportunity,”” McCollum said.

    The idea is to create a type of debit rewards system allowing retailers to provide discounts or give a certain percent of purchases back to the UA in exchange for CatCard privileges.

    It has been more than a year since the foundation has met with the university to discuss the topic, but the UA did not seem eager to progress – partly because of complications that arose because the UA is tax-exempt and the Marshall Foundation is not, McCollum said.

    Complications or not, retailers on University Boulevard said they would like to work something out.

    David Morgan, general manager of both Arizona Bookstore locations, one of which is on Marshall Foundation property, said he has pursued the CatCard option before, applying online and then calling. Both times his request was denied.

    “”Basically, they try to create a monopoly with the merchants in the (student) union,”” Morgan said.

    Morgan said he would be willing to participate in some type of program, even if it involves giving discounts to CatCard customers.

    Administrators at the CatCard Office declined to comment on the prospects of allowing other retailers to use the CatCard system, but according to the CatCard Web site, the only approved vendors are UA affiliates.

    McCollum said the proposed program would be similar to Arizona State University’s “”Sun Dollars”” pre-paid services account. ASU students can deposit money into the account and the money is converted to Sun Dollars at a one-to-one exchange rate.

    The catch is that students can only use Sun Dollars at participating businesses. A list of more than 50 businesses near campus ranges from Ace Hardware to Zia Record Exchange.

    At the UA, students can select from stores affiliated with the Arizona Student Unions, at more than 35 locations, the majority of them eateries.

    There is an option to use the CatCard as a debit card, but it must be linked with a student Wells Fargo bank account for a $5 exchange fee.

    The new idea would create a separate account program that would allow any business, UA-affiliated or not, to participate, McCollum said.

    “”I think the idea is awesome – really forward-thinking,”” said pre-business freshman Jeff Johnson as he stood outside of Pita Pit on East University Boulevard. “”The atmosphere here is better (than the student unions).””

    Brenda Saucedo, a psychology freshman, said she likes University Boulevard better than the student unions because there are more options than fast food-type eating.

    “”I like the food here better. For me it’s more about quality,”” Saucedo said.

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