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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Using CatCards off campus not so convenient after all

    Despite how great CatCards can be, I’ve been in college for three years now and I’m still waiting for the UA to get meal plans to work at nearby, off-campus businesses.

    It almost seemed like that was going to happen with the announcement that CatCA$H could be used at university-area restaurants like Gentle Ben’s, Paradise Bakery & Cafe, and Frog and Firkin. It can also be used at businesses like Campus Athletic and CVS locations near campus.

    CatCA$H works similarly to a debit card. Users add money to their accounts by going online, logging in with their university-issued NetID and a maximum of $250. Users can then swipe their CatCards at any business where CatCA$H is accepted.

    However, vendors do not accept meal plan money, and CatCards can only be used in conjunction with CatCA$H.

    Expanding CatCard use to off-campus businesses is a start, but such a system could be vastly improved by the ability to use student meal plan money.

    “While students have always enjoyed the benefits of using CatCA$H on campus, they’ve been telling us for a long time that they’d like to spend it off campus as well,” said Joel Hauff, interim director for the Arizona Student Unions, in a UANews release. “We listened. And today, thanks to our pilot retailers, we’re starting a new era.”

    Maybe I’m hard to impress, but it doesn’t really seem like a new era. It’s essentially a debit card issued by the university.

    Who would bother going to the trouble of taking money out of their bank account, which can be used at pretty much any business anywhere with a debit card, and putting it on a card of extremely limited use?

    No one, and that’s why it makes no sense. It would be much better if this CatCA$H could be linked to meal plans — something students would love to see and actually use.

    Just imagine being able to, as a student, get away from the monotony of on-campus food options, while still using a pre-budgeted allotment of food money. It’s something many students must have dreamed of.

    Business would boom, especially for restaurants off campus, and assuming the UA received a cut, the university would still be making money.

    Plus, what if Fourth Avenue stores started accepting UA meal plans? It could be a way to increase customer traffic while streetcar construction slows things down.

    There are so few advantages to having something like CatCA$H as opposed to just making meal plans for off-campus restaurants a reality. It won’t happen anytime soon, but here’s hoping it gets done for future generations.

    — Jason Krell is the copy chief for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @Jason_Krell.

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