The UB Card, the official ID of University at Buffalo students, is expanding its horizons.
UB students who have a Campus Cash account in conjunction with their UB Card now may purchase goods and services with the card not only on campus but, in certain cases, off campus.
"Domino's Pizza was our first off-campus endeavor, and it's working out very well," said Naniette Coleman, president of the Undergraduate Student Association at the university, which spearheaded the recent move to off-campus card use.
Students with Campus Cash accounts who order delivery of a Domino's pizza after certain hours may use their UB Card to pay.
They may do the same when taking a Liberty Cab.
"We believe we are the first off-campus taxi service in New York State to do this," said Liberty Cab President Bill Yuhnke. His company won the contract with UB to participate in the UB Card's off-campus program through a bidding process.
"We went online with UB a week ago," Yuhnke said. "Now a student who presents a card can ride to the airport or to a nightclub. A lot of parents are happy that their kids have a way to get home without carrying cash."
UB students with Campus Cash accounts have been able to purchase goods and services on campus for several years.
The impetus for the Student Association to seek the expansion of the UB Card was the university's exclusive contract with Follett's College Stores for the university bookstore, Ms. Coleman said.
"The bookstore on campus is a monopoly," she explained.
"My predecessor, Fernando Maisonett, ran buses and vans to other bookstores because a lot of professors won't allow textbooks for their courses to be sold on campus on account of the monopoly. I wanted to take another approach."
Four off-campus bookstores have expressed interest in participating in the UB Card Campus Cash program, Ms. Coleman noted.
"This isn't an attack on the bookstore on campus," she emphasized. "I believe they understand that this encourages competition."
Clifford B. Wilson, UB associate vice president for student affairs, said that about 6,000 of UB's 23,000 students have Campus Cash accounts.
So far, they may only use those accounts, which operate on a declining balance basis, off campus when ordering a Domino's pizza or taking a Liberty Cab.
"But we are also in conversations with Tops and Wegmans and several movie theaters around our two campuses," Wilson said.
"Nationwide, a number of colleges and universities are doing this," he added. But he believes UB is the first university to do so in the Western New York area.
On campus, UB Cards are used for everything from getting into residence halls and eating in campus dining areas, to taking books out of a campus library and establishing a computer account.
"This is our attempt to provide more essential services to our students," Wilson said. "It also helps with the safety factor when kids don't have to carry money."