Miller: An Unfitting Farewell

by Jon Miller | 5/26/15 7:47pm

As a graduating senior, I was surprised to get an email from the Dartmouth Card Office as early as April 30 — a full month and a half before graduation — notifying me that many of the accounts tied to my student ID would be shut down on May 13. Since the vast majority of seniors do not leave campus until June 15, shutting down many of their accounts a full month in advance presents massive and unnecessary challenges.

Many of the accounts that shut down on May 13 are absolutely necessary to the functioning of students’ daily lives. For example, students can use their remaining balance of DBA — but no new funds can be added to the DASH discretionary fund, and seniors can no longer go negative in DBA. In my experience, since students tend to spend on average about $200 extra in DBA each term, a tribute to the inconvenient and one-sided policies which make the current meal plan system largely incompatible with many student eating habits — many seniors now will have to use cash, credit or debit cards for all purchases, something which may not be immediately financially feasible for all seniors. In the 2010 to 2011 fiscal year, Dartmouth Dining Services made $1.3 million in net income — and yet it seems as though the senior class must be nickel and dimed, rather than be trusted with any negative balance. Instead of a reasonable policy, wherein an official degree would be withheld until the negative balances are paid, we must all be inconvenienced throughout the last month of our time at the College.

Even more egregiously inconvenient is the shutting down of DASH accounts, which are used by students to print assignments and readings. As a senior who has been working on an honors thesis, the apex of my needing to print was around May 13 — right when my account was shut down. The only way around this was for me to go directly to my research lab and ask the graduate students with whom I work to print my research material on my behalf, or to go through the hassle of withdrawing money from an ATM, going to the library to buy a special print card, loading that with cash on a single machine in Berry Library and then using that for each print job.

For our alleged benefit, the College instead administers a “Graduating Pre-Paid DASH Discretionary Account” which ostensibly functions just like a DASH account if we visit the Dartmouth Card Office with cash or a credit card — but any amount we deposit is completely non-refundable. Thus, I am expected to accurately estimate the highly variable costs I might incur on my DASH, deposit that amount and hope that I actually spend it — or otherwise risk forfeiting this money to the College.

Additionally, the Dartmouth Card Office recently changed service providers for the online management and depositing of funds from ManageMyID to GET Funds. Whereas students previously could look through detailed accounts of the charges to their account and meals swipes used when and where, the latter function is no longer available to students. Anyone interested in basic institutional accounting should be appalled that this system asks you to see a meal swipe balance without allowing you to systematically view your expenditures of the swipes.

The huge inconvenience and lack of trust in the graduating senior class implied by administrators with their card policies stand in stark contrast to the camaraderie and affection which the College aims to foster among the seniors as they ask us to become donating alumni. Does the College really wish to leave a bad taste in the mouths of seniors in their last five to six weeks on campus, just for the sake of having that negative $13.56 DBA in their coffers by May 13, rather than June 15? It seems contradictory to me that we are asked to donate to Dartmouth before even leaving the classroom, and yet have all of the accounts that make our daily lives in Hanover run smoothly yanked out from under us.