Freshman Area RAs receive a $450 stipend and upperclassmen RAs receive $250. In the past, RAs and all students have been able to use these funds at any participating vendor, including Country Fair and CVS.
Now that the program has been canceled, we can only use the money on campus. While it was and remains useful for purchasing textbooks through the bookstore, we now have hundreds left in funds on our cards with only a few places to spend the money.
Despite our admirably large amount of school spirit, I am pretty certain no one needs an extra $200 in Mercyhurst apparel. Among other compensation, our stipend is essentially our paycheck for duties performed. Through the program’s end, our employer (Mercyhurst) is telling us that we can only spend our paycheck back with our employer.
The only way to get these funds out of the cards is by transferring them to our account and receiving a refund check – a major hassle, to say the least.
Further, the hasty manner in which this decision was made is unacceptable. Students had almost no warning the program would be canceled and were surprised by its abrupt end.
If the ruling had to be made because of costs, the administration should have given students a fair amount of warning. Major changes to fundamental and long-standing programs should not be made so quickly or without any input from students.
While Director of Financial Services Carrie Newman states the school wants students to continue to frequent these vendors, it is simply not realistic we will do so when the money is not on our OneCard, whether from a stipend or personal funds. Similarly, this cancellation can only harm vendors’ business and will not do anything to stimulate our local economy. As OneCard Director John Patterson was quoted saying in last week’s article, “Not one vendor wanted out.”
I am asking the administration and Ms. Newman to rethink their decision and re-institute this service that has become a major part of our Mercyhurst educational experience. Likewise, students should clearly express their disappointment in this choice and request it be reinstated or replaced by a more cost-effective alternative.
If we make our displeasure known, we can easily persuade the appropriate individuals to change their minds and find a solution that is in the best interests of both the college and the students.