oneCARD due to rule them all



Sheridan’s oneCARD was designed to give students a cashless campus experience, but the college is lagging in the rollout of the new changes.

Elisabeth Connell, Sheridan’s director of ancillary services, acknowledged that compared to its biggest competitors – Mohawk, Seneca and Humber – Sheridan’s rollout of the oneCARD student meal plan and e-commerce capabilities doesn’t quite compare.

“I’d say that we’re slightly behind,” said Connell. ”We don’t have a transaction system, so we don’t have a mechanism right now to take funds on to the card.”

Connell said the college is currently reviewing bids from vendors to set up a transaction system, but was unable to say when that system would be implemented. Some of the vendors bidding for the contract to develop these systems include local Canadian company ITC Systems, as well as American companies Blackboard Transact, Heartland Systems and The CBORD Group, Inc.

As part of Sheridan’s 2011-2012 operating budget, the college implemented the oneCARDs to consolidate the number of cards students and faculty needed to carry while on campus, as well as offering an e-commerce component for transactions around the school.

Sheridan’s 2012-2013 operating budget stated that the oneCARDs would include a meal plan and e-commerce program by the end of 2013. This was never fully realized, and despite the same intention being stated in the 2013-2014 operating budget, Connell said the oneCARD still won’t have these capabilities at the beginning of September.

Sheridan has only recently hired a oneCARD manager who has put together an assessment of what is needed to implement these changes across Sheridan’s campuses, and who will be responsible for overseeing the rollout itself.

“The plan was to do all of these things, but of course, hiring takes time,” said Connell.

Aesha Brown was hired in August as Sheridan’s oneCARD manager, and reports to Connell. Brown worked at Seneca for five years where she helped set up a one-card transaction system for its bookstore. While she’s only been in her role at Sheridan a short time, she has big aspirations for the oneCARD’s future.

“The idea is to have a cashless society, and to be able to use the oneCARD to manage all of that,” said Brown.

She is working to make Sheridan a school where a oneCARD would be all someone needs to buy anything on campus. Students would preload funds on their oneCARD to not only simplify the student experience, but also work toward reducing labour costs for the college.

“The manpower that you have to use to count cash at the end of the day, to deposit the cash at the end of the day, that’s a lot of manpower,” said Brown. “If we could eliminate that, cut the costs, and use everything electronically, that’s the biggest advantage to the institution.”


She also intends to work with off-campus vendors, using the example of Rabba near the Trafalgar Campus, to be included in the oneCARD’s functionality. The only limitations surrounding such use would be that students would not be able to buy alcohol or tobacco products with their preloaded oneCARD.

Unlike Connell, Brown anticipates some e-commerce features to be in place when students start school this fall, but stresses that it likely would be limited to small purchases such as items from vending machines.

Brown recognizes that under such a transaction system, oneCARDs become significantly more valuable, and therefore more trouble when one goes missing.

“If they lose the oneCARD, they are to alert the oneCARD office as soon as possible,” she said. “If there’s any sort of unaccounted for transactions through our investigation, they’ll make a determination on whether or not those transactions were actually valid.”

She said that the fine details about those procedures still need to be worked out, but would be in place when the changes to the oneCARD eventually take effect.

Jenna Pulver, Sheridan’s Student Union President, has been involved in some preliminary talks regarding the new oneCARD system since November.

The conversations she’s been involved with include discussions on the oneCARDs use in student meal plans, usage within the residences, as well as providing discounts at Student Union events and facilities.

“But really, the details haven’t been worked out at this time,” she said in a phone interview.

She also hopes to see it used for data collection and reporting on student habits, and as a means of verification of Sheridan students when using the free shuttle buses between campuses.

Pulver considers residence students the main reason behind post-secondary institutions implementing meal plans and e-commerce functionality on student cards. She notes that Sheridan has recently effectively doubled the amount of students it has living in residence.

She also encourages any and all feedback from students on their oneCARDs, and to pass along any input the Student Union office.

Despite the slow rollout, Pulver said the student reaction to the upcoming changes to be “really positive” and she is pleased to see progress being made.

“It kind of is a bit old-school for us not to have a meal plan on our card that works that way, seeing as most school’s have that,” she said. “It’s good for our school to be getting back up to what that kind of best practice is.”