U Card unites students and services

by David Hyland

For some, the U Card may be just another bad identification picture in which people practice their mug-shot face.
But according to University officials, the U Card is literally a key to the benefits, privileges and opportunities that come with being a University student.
The card is the University’s official identification and is required for students to use the libraries, the recreational centers and computer labs.
The card also has the Gopher Gold service which allows students to use the card for vending machines and to make photocopies. Students can put up to $50 on their card for such uses.
However, the card itself has the information of how much money is on it, so if students lose the card, they lose their money, said Aaron Demeny, an office assistant in the U Card office.
In addition to these uses, the card also contains optional capabilities for banking and long distance service.
Demeny said students can get the card at the U Card office, which is located in Office 40 of Coffman Memorial Union on the East Bank. Once there, students watch a video about the card and are also provided time to sign up for the optional banking or long distance features.
Torrie Reberk, a TCF bank associate, said students can create a TCF checking account with the card allowing them ATM access as well as debit card capabilities. The account is free to set up, requires no minimum balance and has no maintenance fees, she said.
In addition to banking, the U Card also offers optional AT&T long distance service to students.
An AT&T spokeswoman said students should call the AT&T phone number available through the U Card office if they choose to access their long distance program. Using the authorization code found on the card, students could then choose a PIN number. Depending on their phone usage, students receive a 10 percent to 30 percent discount off their bill.
Demeny said he encourages students who need U Cards to come early in the morning to avoid the long lines that sometimes occur.
While the first card is free, if the card is lost or damaged, replacement costs $10, Demeny said. Students also need to report the card’s loss if they have activated the banking or long distance features on it.
Katherine Himes, summer assistant at Middlebrook Hall, said in addition to using vending and copy machines with the card, students in the residence halls are required to use the card for the free laundry and food service.
“You need to have a U Card, there’s no question about it,” Himes said.