Dining Dollars Displaced

Liam Reilly (lireilly@ursinus.edu)

At the end of each semester, many students are left with a collection of hundreds of unused dining dollars.

By paying for friends’ food, splurging at the C-Store, and just accepting that you’re never getting the money back, you can distract yourself from this issue, but it’s still an issue. A possible solution to this would be allowing students to use dining dollars at the Bookstore – at the very least for snacks and academic supplies. 

Director of Dining Services, Michael Forstoffer, explained that dining dollar policy goes through “the administration and business office.” As for how frequently changes occur, Forstoffer further detailed “as they would be needed or warranted, there’s no set parameter or expiration date for something being changed.” When asked if there have been dialogues about dining dollars expansion to the Bookstore, Forstoffer responded, “not to my knowledge.” For those interested in voicing their opinions, Forstoffer encourages students to “take it through the SGA, which would probably be the best outlet to try and start the motion and to move it forward.” He reaffirmed Dining Services’ commitment to hearing student voices and said, “student comments are always taken into consideration for policies that are looking to be adapted or changed.”

There are reasons some might be hesitant to allow Dining Dollars to be spent at the Bookstore. Limited inventories of merchandise, caused by the supply chain and ongoing pandemic, could make it difficult to restock merchandise after an influx of dining dollar sales. Adding on to that, the influx in quantity and frequency of sales during textbook returns could create a lot of extra work. Finally, it raises the question of the applicability of dining dollars to other areas. If a book or a sweatshirt, which certainly doesn’t meet the “dining” part of dining dollars, could be bought with dining dollars, why couldn’t it pay for a replacement ID or a parking ticket? This would simply create future problems to deal with.

This is where the simplicity of a slight policy change comes into play. Snacks from the bookstore should be no different from using dining dollars at the C-Store. Both are using dining dollars at Ursinus-operated services for students to buy food. The C-Store further offers students basic toiletries and first-aid, so the similar option to students of basic school supplies at the Bookstore would make sense as well.

By providing more outlets for students to spend their dollars, they should have fewer Dining Dollars at the end of the semester, with the added convenience of quick access to supplies and snacks at the Bookstore. It simplifies many of the logistics for Ursinus while adding convenience for students. Thus, a minimal policy change of allowing Dining Dollars for snacks and school supplies would benefit the campus as a whole.