How is it Still a (Midd) Thing?


By Charlie Ascher

“Are you doing points?”
“Yes,” I robotically rattle off my ID number. Sick! I just got Panther Points!
Wait … I’ve been here over two years and I still honestly have no clue what my Panther Points are good for. This isn’t necessarily a case of “how are they still a thing” so much as it is a case of “what are these things?” A little bit of research on the Bookstore’s amazing website (which barely lost out to BannerWeb for the best web design of 1997) reveals that for every dollar you spend at the Bookstore, you get one panther point. Cool. Further research reveals that certain numbers of points grant you different gift cards with exciting names like bronze, silver, gold, platinum and platinum+. Because nothing says, “Momma, I’ve made it”quite like a platinum+ card to the Middlebury Bookstore. Now what the conversion rate is of points to gift cards to actual monetary value is well beyond me. This conversion is nowhere to be found. I think I remember rumblings that a thousand points can get you a fifty-dollar gift card. That’s a whopping value of five percent back of your total purchases!
As much as I look forward to the day I’m told I have enough points to get one of those fine gift cards, I feel like there’s probably some ways to make this whole rewards program work better. Just spit-balling here, but maybe, for starters, tell people how much those points are actually worth. Or just lower storewide prices by five percent. I honestly feel like that might do a lot for both customer satisfaction and bookstore sales.  Let’s face it, the bookstore prices are really high, but seeing that $300 textbook listed at $285 might just make it so more people decide to purchase it on campus rather than outsourcing to Amazon.
But these options all pale in comparison to this potential Middlebury rewards program: Dr. Panther Points.
Dr. Panther Points gives the people what they want — Dr. Feelgoods. If we’re going to actually have a rewards program on campus, why isn’t it campus-wide? Realistically, students shop at the bookstore probably twice a semester, but include the Grille, MiddExpress and Crossroads and there’s a legitimate amount of on-campus commerce on a weekly basis. Seriously, if I knew that I could get a “free” Dr. Feelgood for every $100 I spent on campus, you know I’d be heading to MiddExpress for my weekly box of Lucky Charms, rather than driving to Hannaford’s.
This week I’m asking, “How is this not a thing?”
Let’s celebrate the inauguration of a new college president with the inauguration of a new college rewards program. This can be a momentous moment for the Middlebury community. A future where you can turn purchased books into chicken tenders stuffed inside of a grilled cheese is a future I want to be a part of. Let’s make this happen.