Bookstore bans gift cards on send-home bill

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    From now on, students wanting a gift card may have to send home for one. Complaints from parents about the university's send-home program have prompted a ban on buying gift cards from the bookstore with a student ID.

    The problem was that the purchase was listed as a "generic gift card," providing little information as to exactly what kind of gift card had been obtained, said Brian Gutierrez, vice chancellor for finance and administration.

    Because of this system, any time a student purchased a gift card on send home the transaction was visible to whoever paid the bill, he said.

    “If you’re the parent and you’re paying for the send-home bill, you’re unable to know exactly what you’re paying for with a 'generic gift card',” Gutierrez said.

    The main priority of the send-home program is to create transparency regarding student purchases, he said.

    The Finance and Administration Office spent a disproportionate amount of time dealing with send-home bill complaints, Gutierrez said.

    He said with fewer complaints coming in regarding send-home bills, his office has been able to refocus on more valuable tasks.

    Although the new policy has already has a positive impact on the Finance and Administration Office, students such as Wrenn Schoeffler, a sophomore early childhood education major, expressed concern.

    “It was convenient for me, being out of state, to be able to go to the bookstore and purchase a gift card,” she said. “Sometimes the bank from back home cannot transfer money into my account fast enough, so I would rely on the gift cards for occasions like that.”

    Taylor Rogers, a sophomore economics major, said he disagrees with the policy for a different reason.

    “I think if parents have a problem with their kids buying gift cards on send-home they should have that conversation with their kids, not the school,” he said.

    Other students said they did not think the policy change would have an impact. Leigh Lockwood, a junior nursing major, said the new rule will not affect her purchasing habits at the bookstore.

    “I actually only bought a gift card once, so it didn’t really matter to me that much, but it was nice to have the option to buy them in case I did need one," Lockwood said.

    Gutierrez said he was confident that the changes will positively impact both the bookstore and families.

    The overarching goal, he said, is to ensure that the send-home program remains popular and convenient for students.

    With that in mind, Gutierrez said he is keeping a close eye on the program to make sure it is fulfilling its purpose.

    “We carefully manage the send-home program because we know students really like it, and we want it to work for students," he said. "But we also want it to work for the people who are actually paying those bills."