Cash elimination in Lower Commons sees support into the semester


Adam Zerman

Lower Commons eliminated cash payment for the fall semester.

Jimmy Sadowski, Herald Reporter

A person walks into Lower Commons with a wallet full of cash. They reach to pull it out. “It’s only the app or card now,” the cashier says. Now they have to pull out their phone, log onto the GET app and put the money away.

“I asked one of the Lower Commons cashiers if I could pay with cash and they said no because of COVID,” said freshman Lucas Wigley. “I did not want to scan the app and I happened to have $150 I wanted to spend.”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lower Commons decided to switch over to non-contact payment for the fall semester, which includes GET Mobile — an app that allows students to manage funds, make purchases and more. That also meant the elimination of cash inside the venue.

Lower Commons workers favored the payment method transition. Lower Commons Retail Manager Joe Solmonese said the business made the decision to use non-contact payment and not accept cash to mitigate exposure to coronavirus. The GET app now holds student’s meal swipes, hawk dollars and unicard points to pay at Lower Commons. They still accept credit and debit as well. Solmonese said workers and students seem to like the app.

“Workers love it and the students seem to love it too,” Solmonese said. “Everything is right there on their phone. All their hawk dollars, unicard and meal balances are located in one application now.”

Lower Commons cashier Karen Perry said she liked the change.

“I think it is the smart thing to do especially with COVID,” Perry said. “I think it is a lot easier for the students because they have the GET app so it is no contact at all, they just scan their phones and off they go.”

Solmonese said he thought the app helped students keep track of their meal finances more.

“In real time they are up to date on how much money they have to spend and how many meal swipes they have,” Solmonese said.

Perry said not accepting cash made her job easier.

“In the beginning of the morning, when we accepted cash, I had to count because I had so much I had to keep in my drawer,” Perry said. “Then, at the end of the night, I had to count my cash and I had to have someone else count it with me to make sure we came up with the same amount. Right there not accepting cash saves a lot of time in the morning and a lot of time at the end of the day.”

Lower Commons cashier Jen Choco agreed.

“Not accepting cash is faster, easier and accessible to everybody,” Choco said.

Solmonese said he thought non-contact payment did not make much of a difference for Lower Commons economically.

“I do not think it really has an effect on the guest’s decision if they want to come here or somewhere else,” Solmonese said. “If they do want to use cash, they simply can go to the ID office and add funds onto their ID.”

Most students were fine with Lower Commons’ transition to not accepting cash. Senior Andrew Kirschenbaum said he thought the app was quick and efficient. Some students like sophomores Jenny Kroon and Mackenzie Conner said they never used cash at Lower Commons anyways. A few students like Wigley felt not accepting cash was inconvenient in cases when they were carrying a lot of it, but were fine with using the app.

“I think that long term this is actually a great move,” Solmonese said. “The new GET program allows us to do a lot of online orders, which we see the business kind of trending toward anyways. We see that online ordering is here to stay. The GET app is here to stay.”

 “I think contactless is the wave of the future,” Kirschenbaum said. “I think the transition has been smooth and I think it should continue going forward for Roger Williams and our community as a whole.”