Only weeks after the student government election, we are already seeing a push towards more improvement on campus. Adam Rubenfire of The Michigan Daily explains:
LSA-SG President Steven Benson said the organization is trying to get the University to expand its Blue Bucks program so that the currency associated with University meal plans is accepted at local off-campus restaurants. Benson said the organization decided to make the push after approximately 66 percent of students who answered a poll question on the LSA-SG ballot said they would eat at off-campus establishments at least one more time a week if they accepted Blue Bucks.
I see this as a step in the right direction for both the university and local Ann Arbor businesses. From personal experience I can say that I’ve had to take my business elsewhere after finding out I couldn’t use my Blue Bucks in a particular university location. Students always have their MCard on them, but not always cash. It’s kind of a no-brainer that students with more payment options are more likely to visit new restaurants on campus.
The issue that local business owners will have to face, however, is whether or not this boost in sales necessarily means a boost in revenue. The Daily article mentions that “current participating businesses are required to return 3.5 percent of the total of each sale in which Blue Bucks are used.”
Lets break that down. Say you’re buying a $5 sandwich. The processing fee will be around 18 cents. That means just one extra customer’s purchase (of a $5 sandwich as well) covers approximately 28 people’s processing fees. It only seems logical for local restaurants to support the implementation of such a program.
As for me, I don’t use Blue Bucks. But I do use my head. Expanding this program to local businesses will benefit the university as well as small business owners here in Ann Arbor, which in the long run will also benefit me as well as the rest of the students on campus.
(Photo from U-M Housing Plan website)