Need Cash? Too Bad. . .

Chase Portaro

Is Ursinus going cashless? Not exactly, but the removal of the school’s only ATM, previously located in Lower Wismer, might lead some students to think that the school is doing away with cash-only transactions. The removal of Ursinus’s only ATM on campus will now force students to travel to an off-campus location to access cash for cash-only transactions, such as Wellness Center copays, course readers, deposits for lab materials, and Student Engagement activities fees.

The ATM’s removal, which was not announced to the student body, caught many students off-guard. Liam Fagan ‘25 said, “This is simply unrealistic to ask students to make that trip on what could potentially be a regular basis. This shows a lack of concern for students on the part of the college. Especially given the lack of warning or the presentation of any alternative options on the school’s part.”

As much as it came as a surprise to students, it also came as a surprise to the administration. Annette Parker, Interim VP for Finance and Administration, said “We found out about [the removal] after the fact, so there may’ve been a hole in the wall before we even learned about it.” Currently, there are no viable options that the school is aware of to replace the ATM. Parker added, “We would have to buy a machine, maintain a machine, it would cost fees as well,” which might not be practical for a small school like Ursinus.

Parker explained that PNC, which owns and operates the ATM, removed it because of the machine’s low amount of annual transactions. PNC expects about 1,500 transactions per month, for both PNC and non-PNC accounts collectively, but Parker explained that Ursinus is “averaging about 1,500 per year, [and] that’s not enough for the maintenance that’s required to keep the ATM on campus.” That maintenance includes routine support, restocking of consumables such as paper and ink, and solving minor problems such as jams from currency, cards, or paper. So the decision to remove the ATM fell under PNC’s prerogative. Nonetheless, some students believe an important, if not vital campus amenity has been taken away without any notice given to the student body.

Kate Foley ‘23, said, “It’s become extremely inconvenient, especially for students who don’t have cars to get themselves to a bank. Siblings in my Greek organization can no longer pay their dues on time because they relied on the ATM for cash.” Another student, Ryan Edwards ‘25, said “It was convenient being able to quickly grab some cash. . . It was useful when paying for trips/excursions organized by student engagement.”

Besides fees for Greek Life organizations and Student Engagement activities, students also need cash for Wellness Center copays. The Wellness Center accepts payment by checks, but as many students do not carry check books, access to cash is still needed for copayments. Depending on the student’s individual need and ability, traveling .6 miles to the Quick Stop to withdraw cash may not be an option. So, besides the ATM’s removal being an inconvenience for non-disabled Ursinus students, those .6 miles, which doubles to 1.2 miles accounting for the walk back, could present a major disruption for Ursinus community members who may not be able to walk that far, let alone walk that far on an uneven sidewalk along a busy road.

One potential solution to the absence of an on-campus ATM is a cashier’s office, which would allow students easy access to cash. Besides staffing and scheduling issues, Parker explained that a cashier’s office would make Ursinus, in essence, a bank. “We can’t be a bank because there are legal requirements on banks that we can’t [meet]. I suppose we can put stuff on students’ bills, but then you’re talking about someone going into each bill, and that’s lots of paperwork. So we’ll have to look at what the alternatives mean in terms of staffing, finances.”

As the school continues to look for options, Parker said, “The service of the students is the highest priority to us.” That may be true, but some students are still left questioning why there wasn’t an official announcement made from the school about the ATM’s removal. Until a viable alternative is decided on, The Grizzly will be in close contact with Ursinus’s Business Office as well as Missy Bryant, the VP of Student Affairs, to update readers on any developments in the story.