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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, March 4, 2024

Dining Services considers combining JumboCash, Rhino Bucks systems

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at 230 The Fenway is pictured on March 24, 2017.

Tufts Dining Services is exploring the option of combining the JumboCash and Rhino Bucks campus currency systems into a system that would allow students to manage their campus currency on a single card, according to Patti Klos, director of Dining and Business Services.

Klos said that this process would entail combining the Tufts ID and the Rhino Card into a single ID card, getting approval for these cards, purchasing new card stock and determining when the cards would be distributed to students. This change would require most incoming School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts students to switch to the new ID.

"We have a pretty good understanding of what the various steps are that would be required to combine IDs, which actually means issuing a different kind of ID, and typically we would try to phase that in over several years and each new class matriculates," Klos said. "Ideally, we could work on this in the coming semester and the summer to be ready for next fall."

The JumboCash and Rhino Bucks systems existed on the Medford/Somerville and the Fenway campuses, respectively, before Tufts purchased the SMFA, according to Klos. While JumboCash can be spent with a Tufts ID, Rhino Bucks require students to carry a separate card, according to Taoli Shen, a first-year combined degree student who uses Rhino Bucks.

"There's not really enough food for students at the SMFA, so we have to scavenge for food ourselves at places around the campus, and fortunately there are a lot. At many of them we can use Rhino Bucks to buy food there," Shen said.

Shen said that these places currently do not accept JumboCash.

The Rhino Card is only used to make purchases with Rhino Bucks. There is no way for students to directly transfer Rhino Bucks to JumboCash or vice versa, according to Laura DaRosassistant dean of student affairs at the SMFA.

"Both programs wanted ... the ability to have a campus debit card that was a convenient way to access funds on your Tufts ID, which you're really expected to carry with you at all times," Klos said. "It's convenient to have this program, but we're in this place where because the two schools have merged, can we successfully merge those two cards together?"

Rhino Bucks is part of the Boston Campus Cash network, according to DaRos. The program allows students to use their Rhino Bucks to make purchases at over 80 businesses in the Fenway area, including restaurants, grocery stores and art supply stores, DaRos said. The Campus Cash website lists 64 participating establishments.

“The reason why people liked Rhino Bucks so much is because you could use it for things at outside places, like a restaurant, that accepted Rhino Bucks," Gabriella Melchiorri, a juniorBFA student, said.

"Geographically, I don't know if it makes sense for those businesses to also take JumboCash, which is mainly used in the Medford/Somerville area," DaRos said. "For SMFA students, Rhino Bucks make sense, because they're for the places right in their neighborhood."

The company that managed the Boston Campus Cash system, CardSmith, was acquired by Blackboard, the company that manages JumboCash, in 2014, according to a press release. Klos said that merger could make a transition to a singular currency more convenient.

Klos added that combining the cards will require several pieces.

"One piece is the ID itself and the way that card is encoded, another is the software in the background that's used to supply services, and the third component are the devices or card readers that are used around campus and at various merchants in our host cities that accept either Rhino Bucks or JumboCash as a form of tender," she said.

Shen said that a combining of the campus currency might face backlash from SMFA students.

"Rhino Bucks are the official currency for the SMFA, and they don't want to give that up and use JumboCash because that sounds like they're giving in to that system, like they [are abandoning] an aspect of identity of SMFA students," he said.

Klos explained that merging of the currencies is a way to increase fluidity between the campuses.

"The SMFA, it's important that they maintain their identity," Klos said. "But I think in many ways because the SMFA is part of the university, and more importantly part of the [School] of Arts and Sciences, the more that we can make moving between those worlds as seamless as possible is highly desirable, giving everyone the same access to the same kinds of things in one ID card."

Melchiorri said that the potential merging of the campus currency will not have a meaning impact on SMFA students.

"I don’t think people will be upset by it, I just think it might become a nostalgic thing in the future,” she said.