The advent of Colonial Cash to replace meal points and Debit Dollars on GWorld cards is embraced by students across the board for improving dining options and simplifying many expenditures, as Colonial Cash can be used in off-campus eating venues as well on many non-food purchases. At first this page’s praise of Colonial Cash was nearly unqualified, but the negatives of the new system are becoming apparent – Colonial Cash might prove harmful to parents and University partners.
Aramark, the company that handles food service in J Street and University residence halls, has seen sales dip as much as 30 percent this semester, according to University officials. Students are increasingly using Colonial Cash to eat at off-campus locations such as Au Bon Pain, which is reporting a significant increase in business. Before, meal points were limited to Aramark services and the purchase of separate Debit Dollars was required to purchase non-Aramark food.
Aramark’s claim in The Hatchet in October that they are “really enjoying this open market system; its changed the dynamic of campus” is obviously bogus as their financial woes are exposed. One GW official said Aramark would consider raising prices to make up the money, or lowering prices to attract more students – neither of which will work in the long run. Colonial Cash has jeopardized the future of Aramark services at GW and the type of food options students have become accustomed to at J Street.
Colonial Cash allows students to use money, once reserved for food, on a variety of products, like expensive electronic equipment or video games, available at the GW Bookstore and CVS, without their parents knowledge. Students report they are burning through points quicker then ever. The Colonial Cash system has taken away the ability of parents to control the amount of money students spend on food. While the University basks in increased revenue from more students re-upping their Colonial Cash, parents are left wondering just how their kids are eating so much.
We propose a new system that discriminates between food and non-food options. The old system failed in this regard- it was basically Aramark and everything else. At least this could help parents assure themselves that their children are not going hungry due to excess expenditures on superfluous purchases.