Dawg Bucks to extend beyond the ‘Butler Bubble’

If current negotiations are successful, students may soon be able to use their Butler student IDs to pay at some local restaurants.

Qdoba Mexican Grill and Papa John’s Pizza have already signed on to the program, which will begin once technology is in place at the locations and contract negotiations are settled.

The IDs would function as a debit card, with parents or students being able to add money to the balance as Dawg Bucks. Restaurants would scan the cards or use the ID number to charge students. However, students would not be able to use general flex dollars or any part of their general meal plan at off-campus locations.

Student requests and the success of similar programs at other universities led the Council on Presidential Affairs to look into off-campus options last spring. They began searching for a third-party vendor to work out the details, until Aramark offered use of their existing system.

Stacey Puck, general manager of dining services, said Aramark saw the proposal as a chance to expand late-night options, since the participating restaurants have later hours than the dining halls and Papa John’s offers delivery.

“It can compliment what we offer in terms of the dining program,” Puck said, “for students to be able to get food later on the weekend. The delivery option is a lot more flexible.”

Matt Kasper, chair of CPA, said representatives from Aramark and Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson have been working closely to determine what would work best for the school.

“They’re trying to help Butler allure prospective students and improve campus climate,” Kasper said.

The plan includes starting with three restaurants on a trial basis, with the possibility of adding more. As an incentive for participating, restaurants would receive increased advertising presence during campus events like Welcome Week.

CPA member Kyle Frantz said that he looked into other schools with similar programs that incorporate gas stations and drug stores along with restaurants. He said that he would like to see the program grow similarly in the future.

“The goal, long-term, would be to have most of the restaurants in Broad Ripple on-board with it,” Frantz said.

SGA already has ties with Broad Ripple through the weekend shuttle and Kasper said that the program would increase that connection. It would also be more attractive to parents who would be able to better control where their money is spent and to students who do not want to carry credit cards.

Kasper said one of the only issues he foresees is that if too many restaurants are brought into the program, then people wouldn’t stay around campus as much. In the meantime, it will provide expanded dining options.

“It’s a nice idea to be able to get off-campus for an evening once in a while,” Kasper said.

The options were slated to begin in January, but have been postponed. Puck said that Papa John’s service may start in the next few weeks, and Kasper said he hopes a full trial period will begin sometime after spring break.