Earlier in the semester, this page called on University administrators to expand its innovative Colonial Cash program to the nearly 85 establishments on its waitlist. After signing a contract with Blackboard – which will be responsible for handling all Colonial Cash transactions – GW now has the ability to expand the program without the additional burden of an antiquated dial-up system. Given the ability to handle a higher volume of transactions, the University should seek to rapidly expand its current list of Colonial Cash partners.
The University is already initiating efforts to expand the list of partners by reaching out to restaurants and other establishments near the Mount Vernon Campus. While this step will no doubt benefit students living and attending classes at Mount Vernon, it is important the University recognize the need to expand the program further.
Colonial Cash represents a windfall both for the University and for area merchants. On one hand, merchants receive access to a 10,000-person consumer base with loads of disposable income. Restaurants such as Au Bon Pain and TGI Friday’s reported vastly increased sales per month attributed to Colonial Cash. There is no doubt other area businesses would see similar increases in revenue. Like major credit cards, the University extracts a surcharge for every off-campus location on Colonial Cash. This increased revenue can be used for the betterment of the University in a variety of functions.
Most importantly, expanding available partners is a boon to student life. After Aramark’s less than perfect renovation of J Street, students are increasingly looking elsewhere for food service. Given the low cost of plugging a business into the system, the University should strongly consider allowing any business – assuming it meets certain quality standards – to join up. GW should not, as executive vice president and treasurer Louis Katz suggested it would, avoid an overlap of similar venues. More is always better as far as students are concerned.
The University took an important step by contracting Blackboard to manage Colonial Cash transactions in October. It should now take full advantage of the benefits of that deal by allowing for the unfettered expansion of the program.