New ID blocked until November 15

Students at Portland State will be receiving new student IDcards that can function as debit cards later this fall, but the newprogram’s rollout has been delayed by a request from studentgovernment.

PSU announced the new ID cards September 2, which administratorssay will streamline the financial aid process by allowing studentsto direct-deposit their disbursements into checking accountsattached to the cards.

Angered by their exclusion from the decision process on the newID cards, student government requested last week that PSU suspendits contract with Higher One, the company that issues the cards andwill manage PSU aid disbursements.

The PSU administration responded Friday with a statement sayingthat they would ask Higher One to defer implementation of thecontract for one month. Higher One agreed to the deferment Monday,pushing the launch date for the new IDs back to November 15,according to Dee Wendler, director of business affairs.

Student Government representatives expressed dissatisfactionover the administration’s deferment offer Friday, calling rolloutdelay “invisible and useless.”

“This seems like a friendly way to write a denial of ourrequest,” Christy Harper, president of the Associated Students ofPSU (ASPSU) said.

Harper added that while ASPSU is not asking for PSU to break thecontract with Higher One, many of the contract terms are flexibleand should be worked out with students as much as possible.

Wendler indicated that she was surprised to see such animpassioned response from student government on the matter, citingdifficulty getting students onto contract committees in the pastdue to lack of interest.

“If we’d have had this student government in place [a year ago]that is so proactive we would have had a different response” toincluding students in the process, Wendler said.

While the company encourages schools to include students in theprocess, it is not responsible if schools choose to exclude them,said Sean Glass, vice-president of marketing for Higher One.

“It really seems like an issue between the students and theschool, not our services,” he said.

During October, there will be several community forums todiscuss issues with the new IDs with representatives from both PSUand Higher One, according to Wendler.

ASPSU is planning on holding its own open forum in the ParkwayNorth building at 2 p.m. Thursday, according to Harper.

Higher One is glad to participate in the community forums, Glasssaid, and he questions whether other students will have the sameconcerns about the new cards as student government.

“We hear a lot from ASPSU and we would really like to hear fromstudents outside that small circle,” Glass said.

Glass also said that Higher One has been more flexible in theircontract with PSU then at other schools, due to concerns thatmarketing materials at other schools too strongly encouragedstudents to use the card’s checking account feature.

“In our project management we’ve worked and made concessionsthat we haven’t made to other schools to insure that theadministration felt like all options are conveyed to students,” hesaid.

Citing concerns that students are not receiving enoughinformation to make an informed choice about Higher One, studentgovernment has embarked on an information gathering campaign aboutthe company.

ASPSU then plans to publish its findings on the Internet,according to communications director Tony Rasmussen.

The Oregon Student Association (OSA) also released a statementlast week saying that it opposes any contract that would enterstudents into debit or checking accounts for the purpose ofdisbursing financial aid.

In addition, OSA executive director John Wykoff voiceddisappointment that student government was not included in thecontract decision at PSU.

“It’s obvious that at some point the process broke down,” Wykoffsaid.