USC discretionary dollars, available through students’ USCard, will now be accepted at Greenleaf, City Tacos and Rock & Reilly’s according to the MyUSC Card website.
“The decision to use USCard discretionary dollars at USC Village was made in early 2020, but implementation was delayed due to COVID-19.” said Laurie Stone, USC’s associate senior vice president of real estate and asset management.
Unlike dining dollars, which are given to students as part of their meal plans and only work at on-campus locations, discretionary dollars can be used by students to transfer any amount of money onto their USCard, and can be used to make purchases at approved locations. The balance of discretionary dollars does not expire until a student graduates, at which point they will be credited the remaining balance on their student account.
In a statement to Annenberg Media, Dirk De Jong, assistant vice president of USC Hospitality and the USC Hotel, said that each individual business at the USC Village has the opportunity to opt into accepting discretionary dollars as a form of payment.
The push for USCards to be accepted by businesses in the USC Village has been an ongoing effort since its opening in 2017. In a 2019 lawsuit, two restaurants formerly located in the USC Village, the Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker and Rance’s Pizza, alleged that USC told store tenants that students would be allowed to use dining dollars to pay for meals, which never came to fruition.
The two businesses also claimed that USC did not inform them about the USC Village Dining Hall, which they felt provided significant and detrimental competition. The restaurants closed and proceeded to sue the university for promissory fraud, misrepresentation and breach of contract.
The lawsuit, which claims restaurants were misled, was settled in July 2021. According to an email statement from USC, both sides agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.
Will Hochstatter, the general manager at Greenleaf, thinks students’ ability to use their USCard at Greenleaf has been successful thus far. Greenleaf is one of the restaurants that has been advocating for the use of USCards in the USC Village since its opening.
City Tacos welcomes the use of USCards. ”When we opened the business, we knew there was a thing such as the USCards, and we definitely wanted to be part of it,” said City Tacos Operations Manager Israel Montano. “When you have another platform where it facilitates the transaction [between] the user and the business, it’s only helpful.”
Montano is eager to embrace change, so long as it has a positive impact on his business. “We’re always about evolving and having different platforms and whatever it is that’s going to facilitate the consumer to us.”
Not all the establishments in the USC Village see the use of USCards as beneficial.
Sunlife Organics Assistant Manager Orianna Walters believes that the use of cards, “wouldn’t benefit the workers as much as it would the Village.”
“We pay our associates based on our sales,” Walters said. “We’re just letting you guys use your USC card, it probably wouldn’t bring in much sales for us.”
Rohan Rane, a freshman studying business administration, believes that the addition of discretionary dollars as a payment method will encourage more students to eat at restaurants in the USC Village. He also believes that it helps students to budget their allowance by setting spending limits for themselves.
Many students are still unaware of what discretionary dollars are, their purposes, and where to use them.
“I don’t know of any students that use their IDs as credit cards, and I don’t really see a difference between discretionary dollars and using my credit card,” said freshman student Jason Saperstone. He stated the only way he would gravitate towards using discretionary dollars is if it’s cheaper. “I think those places should instead focus on making meals on meal swipes like some of the restaurants at the Tutor Center do.”
As campus adjusts to the change, restaurants and other establishments in the USC Village will have to choose whether to opt into using discretionary dollars or continue using only cash and credit.