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Archive for Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Ban sought for credit card sales

February 19, 2002

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Two bills banning credit card solicitation on university campuses are pending in the Legislature, but Kansas Board of Regents officials are hoping to strike a compromise with the bills' sponsors.

The bills one introduced last session by Rep. Rocky Nichols, D-Topeka, the other last week by Rep. Ralph Tanner, R-Baldwin are essentially identical and would bar credit card companies from signing up students on campus.

Tanner's bill would allow school-sponsored "affinity cards" those that feature school mascots and serve as fund-raisers for the universities or its organizations on campus but would prohibit the card companies from distributing free merchandise in exchange for applying.

"We need to stop this foolishness," Tanner said. "What it does is gets kids into bankruptcy courts."

But both legislators said they'll wait for a counterproposal from the Board of Regents before deciding whether to push their bills. The regents' Student Advisory Committee, which is made up of student body presidents from the six state universities, is helping craft the regents' recommendation.

Regents spokesman Dick Carter said officials hope to come up with a list of guidelines for credit card companies soon. Both Tanner and Nichols said they'd rather the Board of Regents handle the issue.

"I hope the regents do something meaningful enough where we do not have to proceed" with the legislation, Nichols said. "We can run with the issue, but I'd just as soon the regents establish some basic accountability issues. The ball's in their court."

Such provisions could include requiring educational information about credit card debt be distributed to students as they apply for credit cards.

Representatives from the banking industry argue that college students are adults who should decide whether they apply for credit cards.

Justin Mills, KU's student body president, has been an advocate for banning credit card solicitation on campuses. Student Senate in November approved a resolution that would ban sign-ups, but Provost David Shulenburger has yet to rule on the plan.

Student organizations would take a hit if the ban is approved. Student organizations or the Kansas Union must sponsor companies that want to solicit on campus. The union typically gets $200 a day from companies. Organizations usually get $100 plus $1 or $2 per sign-up.

But Mills said student credit card debt which according to one study averages $2,900 per student at graduation overrides the organizations' funding.

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