The closing of Sodexo subsidiary, Off-Campus Solutions, in early 2014 wasn’t without its casualties. At one point, the company was servicing more than 60 universities and colleges, but following the closure most of Off-Campus Solutions’ campuses turned to their card vendors to take over operations.
Blackboard, for example, reported a significant uptick in the number of off-campus programs following the closing, and Pedro Marzo, senior director of market development for financial services at Blackboard, suggested at the time that Blackboard had taken over roughly half of Off-Campus Solutions’ total accounts.
Montclair State is one of those universities. As of March 1 this year, Montclair State has reinstated its Red Hawk Dollars program to be accepted off-campus, enabling students to make purchases using their ID cards at local vendors and restaurants.
As reported by the university’s student newspaper, The Montclarion, the revival was in fact the result of Off-Campus Solutions’ closing up shop — a move that ended Montclair’s off-campus program in June of 2014. University officials stress that the intention was never to shut the off-campus program down, but the sudden close of Off-Campus Solutions left the university with little choice. The end of the old program was met with confusion and disappointment by students and local merchants alike.
The answer to the problem came in the form of Blackboard’s BbOne program. With Blackboard, new program has signed on 13 local vendors with ten more in the works. University officials say that the current roster of off-campus merchants already surpasses the 22 partners with the old program.
The goal for Montclair’s program is to have 30 active merchants by the end of the spring semester. The list currently includes Sandwich Theory, CVS/Pharmacy, two local Applebee’s restaurants, a local steakhouse, and more. The university is also open student requests for additional merchant locations.
Despite a variety of locations accepting Red Hawk Dollars on campus, the additional food options from outside vendors that also accept university IDs makes for an appealing service to students. Montclair’s official website lists the participating vendors and has opened the floor to new merchants by allowing students to email the campus card office directly with suggestions.