Dining Dollars Should Be Transferable


CW File

Nathan Brown, Contributing Columnist

On-campus dining is a daily activity for thousands of students across The University of Alabama’s campus. The simple tap of an ACT Card uses Dining Dollars or Bama Cash in place of real money. With a limited amount of funds, Dining Dollars can quickly become a case of the haves and have nots as some students quickly cash out while others “ball on a budget.” 

According to Bama Dining’s website, “all undergraduate students enrolled in nine credit hours or more participate in the Dining Dollars program.” The $350 fee is automatically charged to student accounts when nine credit hours are met in the fall and spring semesters.  

The Dining Dollars program creates ownership of a digital currency that is particularly useful within the UA community. Unlike other digital currencies, such as Venmo or Cash App, Dining Dollars are non-transferrable. Similarly, cryptocurrencies that undergo the same cash transformations are digitally transferable. 

That same liquidity should be applied to Dining Dollars. When students are automatically charged for the program, they should have the option to transfer assets. 

“Dining Dollars are essentially our money under a different name so we should be able to do what we want with it,” said Jamaal Martin, a junior. 

According to Bama Dining’s website, the Dining Dollars program is designed to supplement a student’s campus meal needs. The $350 Dining Dollars equals about $20.59 per week or $2.94 per day. Whether it’s a daily Starbucks coffee before class or a quick stop at Chick-fil-A for lunch, using Dining Dollars can become more habitual than going to class. 

For those who spend long hours on campus, these dining choices often become the only option due to time constraints and location. This forces students to go through Dining Dollars long before the semester’s end. Others who may have a meal plan or have more time to seek other food options may hold onto their Dining Dollars longer.  

Many locations do not support physical or cash payments, requiring students to swipe a credit/debit card or scan an ACT Card. If you have no money on either card then you’re out of luck, but there are many students who would be willing to transfer extra Dining Dollars to a friend in need if they had the opportunity to do so.  

As it currently stands, Dining Dollars cannot be shared or distributed to another ACT Card despite the ownership of the currency by students. These funds are within the possession of students, so they should be able to distribute, save or spend them as they please. 

“If my friend is in need of money to eat, and I know I have more than enough Dining Dollars left the last thing I’d want to do is give them money off my card for a place to eat on campus,” said Tameah Cameron, a junior majoring in nursing.  

As a system that students are automatically signed up for, Dining Dollars belong to students. If we want to transfer them to other students, we should have the option of doing so.