EZ Charge expansion comes to a halt

Including off-campus restaurants in the system would be complicated.
Freshman Jake Meisenheimer uses EZ Charge to buy lunch Monday at Catalyst Café, one of several on-campus takeout locations. A plan to expand EZ Charge to off-campus restaurants may be in jeopardy as numerous state and federal banking regulations could pose as roadblocks.

State and federal banking regulations could bring the Missouri Students Association's push for expanding EZ Charge to off-campus businesses and restaurants to a halt.

The Student Affairs Committee met with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs and Business Services Director Paul Toler to discuss the possibility of expanding EZ Charge at the committee's weekly meeting Tuesday.

Because the expansion of EZ Charge would involve charging credit to businesses not associated with the university, numerous banking regulations would complicate the system, Toler said

"We are the franchisee for these restaurants on campus, such as Subway or Starbucks, where you can use EZ Charge," Toler said. "Taking this off campus as well would require us to set up a credit system with those businesses or work with a bank. You're talking about a pretty huge change to the way we do things."

MSA passed a resolution to investigate the possibility of expanding EZ Charge last month.

"One of the big issues on campus for students is that, honestly, the prices of food seem a bit too high," MSA Student Affairs Chairman Paul Whiteside said. "We talked to (Campus Dining Services) and they weren't willing to budge on prices, so we thought we'd introduce some healthy competition."

Whiteside and several other MSA members in attendance said convenience was also a main reason for expanding EZ Charge's reach.

"Letting students use EZ charge at restaurants downtown, such as Chipotle or Noodles (and) Company, would really expand food options for students living on campus, especially those without cars," MSA Student Services Director Ryan Senciboy said. "For a lot of students, EZ Charge is billed to their parents, so their parents can just put a certain amount of money on their EZ Charge and it's a very simple process."

At the conclusion of the meeting, Senciboy said MSA would have to take a step back and do further research before approaching the topic of EZ Charge expansion again.

Toler also briefly discussed myZou's new feature, which allows students or parents, if a student's parents pay for their student charge, to view exactly what was purchased at the University Bookstore through clicking on a hyperlink. Previously, expenses at the bookstore simply showed up on myZou as one large expense and did not show what specific items were purchased.

"We did this for the convenience of both parents and students," Toler said. "We figured it was important that parents see what exactly their student was buying at the bookstore if the parents were the ones paying for it."

MSA Operations Committee also confirmed that Josh Travis as their new chairman Tuesday. Travis will replace Amanda Shelton, who now serves as MSA Senate speaker.

Tim Noce, Campus and Community Relations Committee chairman, also discussed his idea for an iPhone or iTouch application specifically for MU. Stanford University and Duke University both have iPhone applications available for download by students. Noce said he's spoken to University Programmer Petar Datsov about the idea and is confident it can become a reality.

"These applications would let you access your myZou, a calendar of events on campus and a lot of other things related to Mizzou," Noce said. "I hope to have a game plan by the end of the school year and have the actual application up and running by Summer Welcome."

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