Students at Portland State University reinvigorated their boycott of HigherOne after the Oregon Senate reprimanded the university for charging students to opt-out of the company's services. Students have protested the MasterCard campus ID cards and financial aid services provided by HigherOne since September, 2004.
In April, students and administrators testified before the Oregon Senate Education and Workforce Committee on Senate Bill 643, which would protect student social security numbers from private companies, such as HigherOne and their Texas-based bank, Horizon Capital.
Senator Vicki Walker, the chair of the committee, thanked students for their activism and later scolded Dee Wendler, the Director of Business Affairs at PSU. Wendler, who signed the contract with the company without involving student or community leaders, testified that students are charged $20 if they do not want HigherOne's MasterCard ID Cards or other financial services.
Senator Walker told Wendler that the university should pay the entire cost of students opting-out of HigherOne because "students had not been given complete and accurate information about what this card would be used for ... they didn't have a chance to opt-out prior to getting the card."
"I want you to take this back to the president of your university," said Senator Walker, "if these students don't want a HigherOne card they should be able to get another card at no charge. I find this very objectionable that if they don't want this card they have to pay 20 bucks."
Reinvigorated by the Senator's public support, students now demand from their university the ability to opt-out from HigherOne and Horizon Capital at no-charge. "It's beyond time for students to have a fair and uncoerced choice to do business with Horizon Capital Bank, and their manipulative marketing front-company HigherOne," said PSU student senator Matt Cavaness.
Senate Bill 643 passed the committee with unanimous support and a "do-pass" recommendation. The bill will be voted on by the Oregon Senate within the next few weeks.