Our view: A growing need for FlashCard refunds

DKS Editors

It’s that time of year again. The shopping carts will descend on dining locations like Eastway Market and Rosie’s. Entire families will do their grocery shopping for the month.  Students will offer their friends — perhaps even acquaintances — three-course meals all to “get rid of their meal plan money.”

For many, this is an accepted part of having a Kent State meal plan that doesn’t fit their lifestyle. The Stater has found that the phenomenon of having leftover money on a Flashcard is just as widespread as we all thought. And though the average amount left unspent might seem small at $28, it adds up: Dining Services collected on more than $161,000 after the spring 2013 semester — a 27 percent increase from spring 2012.

The university must first acknowledge this as an institutional issue that it should attempt to address. Just because it’s not a million-dollar figure doesn’t mean it’s simply noise, and because it’s chump change for the majority of students, they will be unlikely to protest. Then again, in the most extreme cases, thousands of dollars are left on accounts; also, many of the students who have leftover money signed up for the lightest possible plan.

We believe refunds are in order. It’s the responsible and fairly easy thing to do. The school already offers refunds from the Bursar’s Office to remedy overpayments on tuition, room and board and to accommodate scholarships students earn. Why can’t meal plan money be included as part of that reimbursement?

If the school decides to continue keeping the money, then it should be completely transparent on how it’s being spent, and students should have a more than usual level of input on where it’s invested — such as paying for more diverse dining options, for example, or lowering the price tags.

It’s a common sense solution to a problem that must seem so strange to students: having too much money.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.