PSU Vice President of Finance and Administration George Pernsteiner has agreed with the recommendations of the SMC Advisory Board, directing that “effective immediately, credit card vendors will not be allowed to reserve space on the PSU campus to solicit credit card applications.”
In his Jan. 2 letter to ASPSU, Pernsteiner stated that after “gaining a deeper understanding” of the issues at hand, he called for a “review of the related issues and their legal implications with our legal counsel,” which resulted in the declaration.
At the beginning of the school year, one might recall ASPSU student government members handing out questionnaire cards, asking their fellow students what campaigns they would like to work on. One of the issues identified as being a priority in that September survey was that of credit card vendors, and their ubiquity throughout campus.
“These credit card companies typically seek out students because of the perception that they are more likely to be less aware of the risks that credit cards entail, and also more likely to be involved in risky credit use. Credit card predatory practices also prey unfairly on those people of color and low incomes, who aren’t necessarily aware of their limits,” added Aaron Bertrand, director of ASPSU communications.
To help their cause, these vendors also bring along various free merchandise in order to attract customers for enrollment into their programs.
Among those leading the campaign was State Affairs Director Cynthia Sartin. She explained that ASPSU has worked on the issue since the beginning of the fall term, which culminated in a discussion with the Smith Center Advisory Board and a memorandum outlining this dialogue on Nov. 21.
The SMC Advisory Board, led by SFC Chair Chris Moller, then submitted a request to Finance and Administration (FADM), who has the final say on these matters, to begin a moratorium on all credit card vendors on campus. The concerns raised by the ASPSU and SMC Advisory Board then led to a whirlwind of meetings with various members of the PSU administration such as Jay Kenton, associate vice president of finance and planning, Douglas Samuels, vice provost for Student Affairs, and Allen Brown. Finally, after much controversy about whether the SMC Advisory Board could actually pass a moratorium on its own, they did so, and Pernsteiner began the legal process.
But Pernsteiner also added in his letter “this policy is in effect for the duration of our current pertinent contracts, which will expire no earlier than late in the fall of 2002.” Also, “an exception of this policy may be obtained in the case of a vendor exercising an existing contractual right,” bringing into question how much impact this declaration will truly have on the presence of credit card vendors around Smith Center in the future. Indeed, the annually rotating ASPSU administration may have to deal with the same problem again next year, with no long-term solution in sight.