Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Don't Let "Higher One" Pull a Fast One on You!

Privatization of universities proceeds apace, but some students are bucking the trend. "Over 2,000 PSU [Portland State University] students have pledged to support the boycott" of their new campus ID cards "emblazoned with a MasterCard logo" (Tony Rasmussen, "MasterCard Student IDs Incite Boycott and Walkout: Debates about Privacy and Privatization," November 19, 2004). According to The Daily Vanguard, more than 200 students stormed the PSU president's office on Tuesday, November 23 (Treasure Porth, "Students Demand: 'Break the Contract,'" November 24, 2004).

Many students cut up their new Higher One cards in the Park Blocks Tuesday as part of a protest against PSU's contract with the ID/debit card company. Students later marched on to President Daniel Bernstine's office to demand that he meet with representatives from student government. A meeting is planned for Dec. 2.
Students are not only angry about the university's release of their personal data to Higher One, a "virtual bank" that issued the new ID cards, without their consent. The cards are also a major rip-off: " [T]he bank account attached to the cards is low quality: deposits must be mailed to Texas, the 'virtual bank' has no branches on the West Coast, and the fee schedule is higher than all banks in the Portland area, the most notable of which is a $0.50 charge for every pin based transaction. Denise Wendler, the Director of Business Affairs at PSU and the employee responsible for signing the contract, recently stated that if she was a student she would use Direct Deposit over the HigherOne debit account" (Rasmussen, November 19, 2004). The company website says that Higher One "currently serves 13 public and private university clients" ("Fall Term Not Just Busy for College Students: Higher One Processes Nearly $93.5 Million in Financial Aid Disbursement for 13 Universities"). Its newest clients are Columbus State University and Georgia Perimeter College in Georgia ("Columbus State University and Georgia Perimeter College Choose Higher One for New Campus-wide Disbursement, Banking and Debit Card Services Program for Students," November 9, 2004). Kids, don't let Higher One pull a fast one on you!

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