U Card charged faulty

Some complain the Gopher Gold stripe on U Cards malfunctions ” losing stored value.

Emily Kaiser

When Nick Rice tried to pay for printing with his U Card and found it wasn’t working, he thought the problem easily could be fixed.

Rice, a biology graduate student, said that instead he was told the $12 on his Gopher Gold stripe was lost because the card malfunctioned.

Many students are learning the problems of the Gopher Gold system firsthand, and often are losing money because the system doesn’t track money.

U Card department director Shirley Everson said her department knows the system is “not the best,” and that it is trying to find a better system to suit students’ needs.

The system is considered an offline program because the money is not tracked by the office or by students, she said. The value is stored on the actual card and cannot be transferred to new cards if the card malfunctions or is lost.

“When it’s offline, students are really at a disadvantage,” Everson said. “If you lose your card, you lose the money.”

Rice said he is frustrated because a system that is recognized as a problem is still required until the new system is in place.

“It’s weird that the University forces you to use something they know doesn’t work,” he said.

Everson said that if a student’s card malfunctions, she tries to refund the student’s money in a way that is “mutually fair to both parties.”

“We do try to refund in an equitable and fair manner,” she said. “If we have no proof or can’t read the card, we do try to come up with something reasonable.”

She said signs are posted at the cash-to-card machines warning students to keep their balances low.

Everson said she is working with a student advisory board to create an online program where the money would be tracked by student number as a declining balance. The new system would not be in place for at least two years, she said.

Everson said the program pays out more money than the office gets back.

“It costs us a lot and it’s been a concern because we should break even,” she said. “The program is not as advanced as it should be because we should recover our costs.”

U Card advisory board member Kevin Wendt said his U Card malfunctioned and he lost money.

“I personally think it’s a horrible system,” he said.

Wendt said an online system is the best option, and the board is looking at making Gopher Gold a universal system.

He said the board is working on ways the Parking and Transportation Services, the athletics department and Stadium Village stores could use the system.

Until the new program is in place, Wendt said, he supports lowering the maximum balance from $50 to a lesser amount in order to decrease a student’s chance of losing money.

First-year journalism student Kayla Kluver uses her U Card to print and said she put a dollar on her card but it was not added to her balance.

Despite the small inconvenience, Kluver said the system usually works.

If an online system were implemented, she said she would be more willing to store larger amounts of money on her card.

Hina Shafqat, chemistry senior and lab consultant in Coffman Union, said many students who use the lab don’t understand the system and don’t know where to add money to their card.

She said Gopher Gold is a good idea because the labs don’t have to deal with cash, but the machines often are broken and cause problems for students.

Rice said the University is doing bad business with students.

“No personal business would work that way because their customers would go elsewhere,” he said. “But because we are students at this school, we don’t have a choice to use other systems.”