During the first week of the fall semester, Fresno City College announced it is offering $250 bookstore vouchers to students who show their current Associated Student Body card and COVID-19 vaccination card.
FCC President Carole Goldsmith is the one who came up with the bookstore voucher idea, according to Omar Gutierrez, vice president of administrative services at FCC.
Kathy Bonilla, FCC’s public information officer, said the primary goal of the vouchers is to motivate students to get vaccinated against COVID.
Gutierrez added that they are also a way to help and encourage students to enroll in more courses.
According to Gutierrez, $1.5 million of FCC’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds were set aside specifically for this voucher program, giving up to 6,000 students a chance to receive one.
Gutierrez does not think all 6,000 students will show up for their voucher because new programs like this are popular at first and then die out after a few weeks.
However, since the voucher opportunity has been extended until Sept. 24, he said another rush is possible and FCC is ready for it.
Paul Klays, FCC bookstore manager, said the first week offering the voucher was tough as tons of students lined up inside and outside the bookstore.
However, he said his team was up for the challenge because their job is to help students.
As of Aug. 16, approximately 1,800 students have signed up and received their vouchers, according to Klays.
To manage and checkout students coming in, Klays said up to 15 student employees were hired and hours had to be extended.
The main problems the bookstore has faced, as a result of the vouchers, include time and shortages of merchandise such as FCC Rams apparel and other school supplies like backpacks.
Klays said these kinds of items typically do not sell out so fast, but now that students have money to spend these items are flying off the shelves.
Klays reassures that supplies will be restocked soon and encourages students to come back to the bookstore at a later date, if items were unavailable.
In addition, he recommends students email the bookstore at [email protected], as opposed to calling since the bookstore phones ring nonstop due to students calling to ask for specific items.
Regardless of any issues though, Klays said it is important to have this voucher available for students and the bookstore is glad to be involved.
“Everyone is coming off a tough 18 months. Not only students, but you, me and everybody else. It [the pandemic] was the biggest weird event in most of our entire lives and so anything extra to help whatever might be hurting you is a super positive thing,” he said.
Klays is unsure if FCC and the bookstore will have another voucher opportunity in the future.
However, he feels this opportunity can serve as a good foundation for the campus to show students what can be done for them.
FYI for students:
FCC’s bookstore accepts physical or digital vaccination cards, according to Klays.
Vouchers cannot be used online.
This upcoming week, the bookstore is open Monday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday from 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The third helper in the bookstore voucher program is FCC’s Student Activities, who has also seen an influx of students in their building, as they rush to take their ASB card photos.
Though Student Activities is required to help with whatever FCC demands, Bonilla commends its staff for getting students in and out as quickly as possible and not having any complaints about the work.
Janice Wong, senior program specialist of student services, said, “Our office has been extremely busy, but we understand that we are here to provide a service to the students and meet the needs of the students.”
ASB cards are used to confirm students are currently attending FCC, making them eligible for a bookstore voucher.
In addition, the ASB card gives students other benefits such as allowing them to attend at home sports events for only $1 and discounts at select places like Dutch Bros.
Money from ASB cards allows FCC’s Associated Student Government to host events like their RamBurger Round-up BBQ in the fall and RamDoggie Round-Up in the spring for students.
Word about the bookstore vouchers got around fast with the help of professors and staff spreading the news, which is how FCC student, Amris Her, heard about it.
“I think it’s pretty cool because people are getting rewarded for getting vaccinated. You’ll be rewarded for protecting others and yourself,” she said.
Another FCC student, Damian Garcia, seized the opportunity right away and bought snacks with his newly acclaimed $250 from the bookstore, after hearing about it from his father who also attends FCC.
“I think it’s smart, it gives people a reason to get vaccinated because it’s $250 and that can be helpful to others who might actually use it for books,” he said.
On the other hand Jeremiah Moua, another FCC student, believes it’s a good idea but that FCC presented it at the wrong time.
When Moua heard about the bookstore voucher, school just started and he had already paid for his classes and supplies, so he believes it would have been better if FCC notified students earlier.
In addition he said, “I think it’s worth it to get vaccinated, but it’s not worth it to get vaccinated specifically for this reason.”