Navigating the cafeteria has theoretically never been easier thanks to the new YUcard mobile app, which allows students to pay for purchases in campus caf stores with their smartphones. Since its introduction in September, many students have been reportedly foregoing their plastic ID cards in favor of the new application, according to the university.
Though students who have chosen to use the app share affection for its convenience, it remains unclear how many students elect to use it on a regular basis. “We don’t know how many students downloaded it, but we heard from Food Services that many students are using it every day to purchase food in the caf, at the convenience stores and local restaurants,” shared University Dean of Students Chaim Nissel. Despite the lack of available data, Food Services noted that the app is a relatively popular payment method among students.
Most students approached for comment stated that they do not use the app for cafeteria purchases, and have not observed their peers doing so either. Its other functions have proven far more popular; Lilly Gelman shared that though she doesn’t “ever use it to pay for anything or to get into the building, it’s really helpful to check my caf card balance, especially because it tells you how much Omni money versus regular money you have.”
Other students have echoed the convenience of the app for certain situations, but not for food payment. Said Rivkie Reiter, “I use it sometimes as a picture ID if I have forgotten the card, and it’s convenient then.” She felt that “it doesn’t hurt to have,” but that in her own personal experience, restaurants have preferred to use her YU ID number rather than scan her app for payment. Reiter also raised concerns about the app’s functionality and accessibility, saying that “sometimes it’s super glitchy and doesn’t work… It’s also not an easy interface to use.” Two other students expressed issues downloading the app, while another was disappointed that his often failed to work. In contrast to many students who still choose to use their physical cards, however, several cafeteria staff have noted the efficiency of the app at the register.
The virtual YUcard has many different features that enable students to check their meal plan status, deposit money, and view their transaction history. The app can also be used to make purchases at convenience stores and local restaurants such as Tiberias, Eden Wok, and Mendy’s located on the Beren Campus, and at Chop Chop, Grandma’s Pizza, Golan Heights, Lake Como Pizza and One Stop Kosher on the Wilf campus. Created as a team effort involving coordination with Supporting Services, Student Accounts, Food Services and IT, the online counterpart of the YU ID was developed with the intent of making the dining process easier.
“We are always looking for ways to make services on campus more accessible to students,” said Nissel, who first introduced the app in an email to the student body following the holiday break in October. The OneCard MyPay app through which the YUcard is accessed was developed by Heartland Payment System, Inc., and premiered its first version in September 2012. Used at many other American universities, “OneCard is widely used and has an excellent reputation,” said Nissel.
To download the YUcard, students should type “one card” in the search bar of their phone’s app store. Upon opening the app for the first time, the student should type in Yeshiva University, select username 9, and then enter their YU ID and password to link the app to their account.
New features will consistently be added to the YUcard, and students will soon be able to use it to access the dorms in place of their ID cards. Another forthcoming addition is the use of laundry vending services through the app, which is expected to be introduced sometime next year. As newer versions of the app itself are released, students can hope for improved functionality and greater familiarity with the app throughout campus.
Any suggestions for further improvements should be directed to Sandy Leonard at email@example.com.