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Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Gull Card Increases Student's Buying Power

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury State University is looking for a few good merchants to participate in its new off-campus Gull Card program. The possible rewards? An increased clientele of some 6,000 students with millions of dollars in buying power.

What is the Gull Card? It’s the multi-functional ID which students use to gain access to residence halls, labs, even laundry rooms. For the last two years the card has also been an on-campus debit card which students can use in everything from soda and snack machines to library copiers.

Now, in a move which is a first for an Eastern Shore college, and one of the few in Maryland, SSU is taking its Gull Card off campus. "We already have two merchants signed up," said Mike Burton, SSU office services director who is heading up the program. "We’re looking for eight more who would like to participate on a trial basis for two months. If all goes well, we’ll then open up the program to all merchants."

Participating stores utilize a verifone, obtained through the University, to authorize purchases. Students present the Gull Card just as they might any other credit or debit card.

Like most bank debit cards, students or their parents make a cash deposit which is credited to their University account. Each time a purchase is made, that amount is deducted. The picture ID ensures only the student can use the card, and no money is ever exchanged between the card holder and the merchant. The card can’t be used to get cash, nor for purchasing alcohol or cigarettes. "I see it mainly used for food, other groceries or clothes," said Burton.

Such cards have swept university campuses in recent years. SSU’s is different from many, however, in that a single ID can be put to so many uses, from access to computers to purchasing books to now buying burgers off-campus.

The first merchant to sign up is a restaurant across Rt. 13, Little Tavern, which specializes in "Burgers by the Bag." It had a trial run of the off-campus system recently, and it worked without a hitch, said Burton.

Cash-strapped students are expected to embrace the new service. "Yes, I like the idea," said Aaron Moniger, a 19-year-old chemistry major from Silver Spring, "especially since I live off campus."

Plans for the Gull Card call for Web-based accounting later this academic year, where students and their parents can make deposits to the Gull Card account, but also get a print-out of expenditures. "I think parents, in particular, might like to see where their kids are spending their money," said Burton.

For more information on the Gull Card merchants program, call Burton at 410-677-5031.


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