UISG drops platform item of expanding U-Bill to downtown


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University of Iowa Student Government leaders will need to simplify their plans to expand the U-Bill's charging capabilities next spring.

The need for change follows a series of panel discussions and focus groups in which UISG student leaders learned they will not be able to expand the U-Bill's functions to off-campus locations. They have also decided not to change the U-Bill from a credit system to a debit system.


"Our original plan was to expand the U-Bill to off-campus locations, but we found it's not possible for a university to do that," UISG Vice President Brittany Caplin said. "It would make the university a bank. There are a lot of legal issues involved."

Instead, UISG will look to expand on-campus functions, including U-Bill charging for parking ramps, Campus Activities Board events, SCOPE concerts, student-organization fees, and medical expenses.

Earlier this fall, UISG leaders planned to expand the U-Bill's charging capabilities on and off campus as well as investigate a possible switch from the current credit billing system to one that is debit.

UISG held student focus groups in late October, and the results showed that students liked the current credit U-Bill system and didn't want to see any changes.

"A lot of students relied on credit to get them through the month. They're able to U-Bill and charge different things when they don't have any other money," Caplin said, and the UI is one of three national universities using a credit billing system.

The UI students who participated — seven undergraduates and one graduate student — said they wanted the ability to charge parking and other university-affiliated costs to their U-Bill.

Caplin said UISG leaders will meet with David Ricketts, the director of UI Parking Transportation, on Thursday to discuss implementing new equipment in on-campus parking ramps.

Ricketts said he couldn't estimate how much such equipment would cost, but the department will try to incorporate the project in its Parking Access Revenue Control equipment proposal early next year.

"We're considering [UISG's proposal], and we hope to have it included," he said. Parking & Transportation hopes to replace its equipment and cashier facilities over the next several years, he said.

UISG members can expect to know if the plan to implement U-Bill accessibility in parking ramps is feasible by "no later than next summer," Ricketts said.

UI junior Lauren Latus said the ability to pay for her parking with her U-Bill wouldn't be an added convenience.

"I pay for my own U-Bill, so it doesn't really matter where [the money] is coming from," she said.

But UI junior Saba Ghaffari said expanding the U-Bill's accessibility on campus would be more convenient for students who rely on their parents for money.

Caplin said she wants to see most U-Bill changes implemented by the end of this academic year.

"With the parking ramps and student-organization fees, that will probably be implemented in the next academic year," she said. "It really just depends on if the people want to work with us. We're always ready to move ahead."

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