At the pandemic’s beginning, when people were concerned about the coronavirus’ transmission, many retail businesses moved away from cash for transactions. Wayne State University was no different.
“One reason was limiting the passing of cash itself, which even before the pandemic was thought of as possibly not 100% sanitary,” said Alex MacKenzie, resident district manager for WSU’s Dining Services. “But then — and somewhat well-publicized — was the difficulty to actually procure cash through the banking and courier services. It was no different for us. So, we also had to shift out of necessity.”
Since then, businesses under Dining Services operations inside the Student Center — including Starbucks, Midtown Market, Tenders Love and Chicken, Panda Express, and Taco Bell — have moved away from cash transactions. In addition, Sushi Kabar, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Starbucks on Anthony Wayne Drive and WSU’s two residential dining halls have also phased out their use of greenbacks.
“While some people have been aware of this for some time, we want to make sure the entire campus community understands why many of our on-campus businesses are not taking cash for payments,” said Tim Michael, associate vice president of WSU’s Division of Student Auxiliary Services. “We also want to raise awareness of other forms of payment, including the easy loading and use of OneCard dollars onto ID cards. OneCard cash deposit machines are located in the Student Center and many residence halls.”
Wayne State is not the first higher-ed institution to make the switch to a cashless retail system, as other universities around the state and elsewhere have gone a similar route. And right next door to WSU’s Mike Ilitch School of Business, the entertainment venues of Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park and Fox Theatre no longer accept cash. For WSU, MacKenzie said, it made sense for the university even before COVID-19.
“Cash for us, specifically, made up a very small portion of previous transactions. The pandemic just sped up things that were already naturally occurring,” MacKenzie said. “And when we talk about cash replacement on campus, we’re talking about your OneCard, Warrior Dollars, debit and credit cards, Apple or Google Pay, etc. Also, the increase in mobile, since we use GrubHub on campus, is obviously a cashless transaction as well. Prior to COVID-19, we already knew those payments made up the vast majority of transactions.”