Speaker of Senate Mitchell Rosenberg, proposed a plan to bring Panther Bucks to shops and stores in Old Towne Orange in the near future.
Although the project is still in its inception, Rosenberg said students complain frequently about the lack of dining options and inability to fit more restaurants on campus.
“I’m advocating for this idea because I think it answers the students’ concerns, as well as possibly having a positive impact on the university and community,” Rosenberg said. “I think it is a unique way to work around the physical space issue on campus, and expand our university in other ways in the city.”
There has not yet been any communication with businesses in the Plaza and there is no indication of which restaurants may want to be a part of the program, Rosenberg said.
He added that it is too early to know whether or not off-campus purchases made with Panther Bucks will be tax-free, like purchases made on campus.
Many students on campus support the idea of bringing Panther Bucks to the Plaza, adding that on-campus dining options can become tiring.
“I remember living on campus and just being tired of the on-campus food options. They are convenient, and often good,” said Adam Schaffroth, a sophomore economics major. “However, it would be nice to have the option to spend my Panther Bucks off campus too. I think this would also help develop a stronger relationship between the city and students at Chapman. Students will get to spend their Panther Bucks in the Circle, while more businesses will be making money. It is a win-win situation.”
In the past when this idea has been presented, it was not successfully implemented due to a lack of focus and action, Rosenberg said.
Dean of Students Jerry Price said that there would be significant complications – such as banking regulations – with making Panther Bucks usable in the community.
“The other complication is it is a very costly thing too,” Price said. “When students buy Panther Bucks, part of the reason Sodexo can invest in the infrastructure, staffing and facilities of the food service program is because they know all that money that students bought in Panther Bucks was coming back to them.”
The proposed plan would also cause money that typically goes back to Sodexo to be used at outside businesses – a detail that Price said Sodexo would have to factor into its business plan.
“I am not saying that it can’t be done, but there is a business reality to it that has to be sorted out,” Price said. “I still think that it is something that students should continue to look at, just not oversimplify it.”
However, many California colleges, like UCLA, allow students to shop at off-campus locations, such as CVS Pharmacy and Whole Foods Market. Rosenberg said that these types of programs are often successful.
“Other universities have programs like this, and they are extremely popular and better the daily lives of students. I believe this time is different because I, along with all of student government, am passionate about working hard to see what we can do with this advocacy,” Rosenberg said. “There will be much more focus on this this year as opposed to the focus by members in the past.”
Kathryn Jenner, a senior public relations and advertising major, thinks such a program would help attract new students to the school.
“I have friends at other schools who are allowed to spend their university dollars at local stores off their campus. I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to either,” Jenner said. “This is money that we purchase from the school. I believe we should be allowed to spend it more places than just on campus.”