Students and community members looking to dine at Binghamton University will no longer have the option to pay for their meals with cash.
In an Aug. 16 B-Line News Addition, Binghamton University Dining Services (BUDS) announced that all on-campus dining establishments will no longer accept any form of cash payments. BUDS encouraged students to use alternative payment options, such as meal plans, dining gift cards, credit cards and digital payment options such as Apple or Google Pay.
Thomas LaSarso, director of retail operations for Sodexo at BU, explained that there has been an internal debate about switching to a cashless system for the past decade. LaSarso wrote that recent supply chain and staffing issues are what led to the change being implemented now.
“The big driver of going cashless is that cash sales have been on the decline over the last several years,” LaSarso wrote in an email. “Our cash sales are roughly one percent of overall sales volume. Within the Marketplace alone, we would cash out registers over 40 times a day. The amount of time required to issue, balance a cash drawer in the morning, then, at the end of the shift, balance the same cash drawer and make a deposit and reissue the drawer for the evening thus repeating the process required an immense amount of time.”
Keonna Hyacinth, a junior majoring in biology, expressed concern with the nature of the announcement and its potential effects.
“I don’t think the school did a good job at getting this information to students,” Hyacinth said. “I heard of this only by overhearing a conversation from other students.”
LaSarso acknowledged that some students may be concerned that they can no longer purchase items with cash, but said that remedies for this are currently being planned. Four Visions Federal Credit Union ATMS are also available for use on campus. Two are located in the University Union, one near Dunkin’ Donuts and another near the Binghamton University Bookstore. The rest are located near Jazzman’s Cafe in the Library Tower and outside of the Events Center.
Tabitha Spencer, lead at the Appalachian Collegiate Center, agreed with BUDS’ decision to move away from cash payments. Spencer said cash transactions usually occur as a last resort.
“Students don’t typically even pay in cash that frequently here,” Spencer said. “Mostly the only times we’d really ever see anyone pay in cash would be toward the end of the semester when their meal plans were starting to run low.”
Tonique Blair, a junior double-majoring in accounting and mathematics, said the new policy shows BUDS is working to improve, although the communication could be better.
“I think the dining halls are trying to make improvements for this new semester because last year there were many unanswered complaints,” Blair said. “They need to do a better job at communicating to students and showing that they do care. I hope things improve.”
Students can currently exchange their cash for BUDS gift cards at the future Quesara station, and the University is in the process of providing a permanent machine that will exchange cash for a BUDS gift card, according to LaSarso.