Support the Higher One boycott

When I first heard about the Higher One card coming to campus, I didn’t pay much attention. If anything, I was initially pleased. The new card would save me the $20 needed to replace my worn and illegible ID!

But, joking aside, the glibness of the presentations surrounding the card’s introduction set off some alarm bells. It was all just a little too slickly put together. It felt too much like a snake-oil sale. The message seemed to be, "Ignore the obvious risks inherent to such a wholesale consolidation. Don’t worry, little Vikings, you can trust that the administration will continue to take care of you just as it has these last few years!"

The joke was on us.

The upshot of this helpful new card? Our already thin bank accounts get trimmed even further while a company in Connecticut run by Yale Business School grads profits from our money!

The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. We should all be extremely wary of this new presence on campus and continue to adamantly let the administration know how this bait-and-switch has made us feel.

My main problem with this is the fact that our existing agreement – i.e. between our lender, school and selves – has been altered by the addition of a needless middleman.

Just think about this for a moment. Can you think of a time when adding another middleman helps the final customer? How much more efficiently can Higher One really handle our problems, training notwithstanding? Our university has around a dozen financial aid officers who have struggled to meet our needs. Higher One has some forty employees covering the needs of almost a dozen schools across the country. No real-time West Coast support is the tip of the iceberg! Those of us who depend upon financial aid for our livelihoods can immediately see the horrible snarls that can arise from trusting our vital day-to-day financial needs to a company 4000 miles away!

But the best part is that PSU has the ability to earn kickbacks if a certain number of us opt for the ludicrous OneAccount. Where is this profit going to come from? And are we supposed to trust that PSU has our interests at heart?

Unfortunately, we must trust them with it to a certain extent. But we do not need to trust a faceless profit-engine on the East Coast with our financial aid money. Do a Google search of "higher one card problems" and see what other students have to say about the "ease" of the Higher One experience.

Here in Portland we feel an intrinsic aversion to the Enronization of our country going on "out there." We think that it cannot happen here in our sanely blue little metropolis (this despite the PGE monopoly under which we’ve suffered). But that same process – privatization, closed-door machinations and large-scale pocket lining at our expense – is going on right here under our noses.

The sad fact of the matter is that our state’s higher education system is predicated not on excellence of instruction, facilities and access, but on profitability. The results of this philosophy are easy to see. Walk down Sixth Avenue or peek outside the Meetro and see our gleaming new dorms, then take a look at your payments to PSU over the last couple of terms. Think about how it seems that TAs are teaching more and more of our classes, while brilliant teachers like Ridwan Nytagodien are shown the door for daring to challenge the school’s administration to better itself.

Now think about President Bernstine’s $20,000 raise and ask yourself again, Can we trust these people with our money?

This is a dangerous and growing trend here at PSU, and we in the student body are the only ones who will call attention to the abuses taking place in our name. We’re the only ones who will be adversely affected, after all. We may be nearly powerless to prevent our national administration from playing fast-and-loose with our country’s soldiers, reputation and finances, but we are not without power here at home to stop our school from behaving similarly.

Support the boycott of Higher One.

Riggs Fulmer can be reached at [email protected]