AMS loyalty card coming this September

$13,600 job created to coordinate program

Starting next fall, students can say goodbye to cutting out coupons and fumbling for change.

The AMS has announced plans to distribute Swipe, a new card for students that is essentially a hybrid debit and coupon card. Students can add money to their card either online or at designated areas and take advantage of the built-in discounts at local stores.

AMS Advancement and Development Officer Dan Jacob, who is the incoming AMS media and volunteer director, initially proposed the program when he was a finalist in last year’s Queen’s Apprentice. He has been working this year to see his idea realized.

“This is an opportunity to give students a tangible piece of proof of the AMS’s commitment to students,” Jacob said.

The AMS is collaborating with Toronto-based company Givex to establish the program. Givex will cover all start-up costs required for the program, which, according to Jacob, is a “substantial amount.” He said he was unable to disclose the amount at present because the agreement has not yet been finalized.

As a result of Givex funding the initiative, the Swipe card will be offered to all undergraduate students free of charge.

“This is a unique program and it is innovative. It’s different than what is being done out there,” said Amanda French, Givex VP of sales.

With Givex taking responsibility for the costs of the program itself, the only financial contribution required of the AMS is Swipe coordinator’s $13,600 salary and the Swipe sales representatives, whose earnings will be largely commission-based with an honorarium.

AMS VP (Operations) Jenn Hirano said the position of Swipe coordinator was passed directly by the AMS Board of Directors without AMS Assembly approval, while the creation of a sustainability coordinator—also with $13,600 salary—had to be approved by Assembly. She said this differed from the process by which the AMS sustainability coordinator was passed, because the creation of that position represented a “fundamental shift” in the direction of the AMS.

Board of Directors Chair Dave Homuth said corporate matters, such as the creation of a salaried position in the AMS, don’t need to be passed through Assembly, but can be dealt with solely by the Board of Directors.

“The Board of Directors has the responsibility to analyze and approve all matters of the corporation from the authority delegated to it by the AMS Assembly when the board was created,” he said.

Mike Cotton, ArtSci ’07, is the newly hired Swipe coordinator overseeing the program. His role will include advertising the program to students and, with the help of sales representatives, soliciting local businesses over the summer to participate. Hiring for Swipe sales representatives ends on Monday. Cotton will begin the position in May.

Jacob said that students will be able to use the card at all AMS services, and cardholders will be able to access their accounts online.

Participating businesses will be able to post promotions on the membership website, thus eliminating the cost of printing coupons and hiring people to deliver flyers.

“Hopefully members will check [the website] as actively as Facebook,” Jacob said.

Chris Kang, Comm ’05 and ArtSci ’06, spearheaded the project with Jacob, and said the Swipe card will replace the “Welcome Back” coupon book students receive at the beginning of the year. Instead of having to cut out coupons, Kang said, the student discounts will be built into the card.

“I really think this has revolutionized the way Queen’s students are able to interact with AMS services and, in the long term, reach out to the Kingston community,” Kang said.

The card will also have a “loyalty points” system by which students will receive redeemable points with every purchase made with the Swipe card at AMS services. Full details have yet to be determined.

“[It’s a] great opportunity for students to get more value from the AMS and to have a … tangible benefit from AMS membership,” said incoming VP (Operations) Ian Black.

Jacob and Kang hope that in the future, the program will also include other Queen’s services like the Campus Bookstore, New City laundry (the laundry machines used in residence) and library photocopiers.

“Swipe, as a membership card program will enable students, the AMS, and the broader Kingston community to complement one another and grow together in the future,” Jacob said.

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