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 Rock Dollars ID program spreads beyond Slippery Rock 



Jan. 10, 2008
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Rock Dollars ID program spreads beyond Slippery Rock


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Contactless technology has come to Slippery Rock University's 9,500 students, faculty and staff thanks to a small tag about the size of a postage stamp. Now it's spreading beyond the campus community to Grove City, Butler, Ellwood City and further as merchants realize its conveniences. 

            "We launched the new Rock Dollars/ID payment system in August with 12 participating merchants. Now we have 34 willing to accept Rock Dollars payments by ID card or cell phone tag," said Barry Welsch, campus card project manager for Heartland Payment Systems, the payment services company that brought the technology to SRU.

            The system - the first of its kind in the country - uses contactless tags that communicate with a reader without physically touching it. The system gives students a cash-free way to use the campus dining halls, bookstore, laundry and vending facilities. 

            "It's more organized. You have so much to worry about as a college student, you don't want to worry about carrying cash," said Kristi Wesolowski, an SRU sophomore from Freedom.

            Rock Dollars are the spending accounts users create for the system, which will pack even more value when classes resume Jan. 14. Students will be able to get their hair done, have their car worked on or hang out at a coffee bar - without using cash.

            New off-campus Rock Dollars merchants include the Sandra Van Dyke Hair Salon in Harrisville, Diehl Automotive Group in Butler, Compadres Mexican Restaurant in Grove City and MoBo's in Ellwood City. They join Giant Eagle, Luigi's, Subway and Sheetz in Slippery Rock, among others, already on board.

            "Students have been coming into Butler, going into Grove City and they're asking about this system, and of course the merchants like the technology and are interesting in gaining those students as customers so they're participating," Welsch said.

            Merchants say the system plays to the tech-savvy college generation.

            "I think it's really going to take off," said Sandra VanDyke, owner of the Harrisville salon, whose clientele includes several SRU students. "It's worry free for students."

            "I thought it was a good way to help students. They like to use the cards instead of their cash," said Armando Navarro, general manager of Compadres. "They come in and swipe the cards. For us, it works like a credit card."

            SRU will host an orientation program Jan. 11 to orient more than 350 transfer and new students to the campus and Rock Dollars program. Rock Dollars does not require a minimum or maximum deposit, and students have the option of involving their parents with the accounts. For every purchase, 0.5 percent goes to SRU's educational foundation and 1 percent goes back to the student to keep or donate.

            For a limited time, every student who adds $100 to his or her Rock Dollars will receive a T-shirt, said Beverly Lumley, system administrator for the card program at SRU.  The T-shirts have SRU printed on the front, with Rocky, SRU's mascot, and the words, "1st In The Nation To Rock It" on the back.

            "Since we've taken the Rock Dollars off campus, this program has really become widely accepted by our students, staff and faculty," Lumley said. "It's a huge convenience for students. Not only are students using the technology on and off campus, they're putting more money into their Rock Dollars accounts."

             She said the University will begin issuing the Rock Dollars ID cards to students during orientations in March and over the summer so that by the time students arrive for fall 2008 their Rock Dollars accounts will be in place. 

            "It all boils down to providing convenience," Lumley said.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

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