Hobo Dough celebrates 20 years, reflects on history


Hobo Dough has rooted itself at South Dakota State University over the past 20 years. 

Hobo Dough was officially released July 1, 1997. It was made to replace cash to make on- and off-campus purchases more convenient, according to Card Services.

“The best thing about Hobo Dough is the convenience of use and the fact that the balance will stay on the card year to year,” said Vicki Hemstad, Card Services program assistant.

From the beginning, Weary Wil has been the face of campus currency, and though Hobo Dough has always been available to anyone with a campus ID, Hobo Dough has not always been its name. In 1996 when the idea was developing, students, staff and faculty had separate accounts. The staff and faculty account was called Campanile Cash. The name eventually became the norm for both accounts.

Kendell Rohrbach, card services manager, said Hobo Dough’s purpose has not changed much in the past 20 years, but the program has grown.

“When we started, there were six off-campus merchants who took it and we only had 10 laundry rooms,” Rohrbach said. 

“As the university has grown we have built more residential halls, more laundry rooms. Every dining place accepts it if you run out of money on your meal plan. Our off-campus merchants are up to 18 right now.”

Card Services staff members are looking to add businesses to its Hobo Dough roster.

“We’ve added a few, we’ve lost a few. We’ve added the Brookings Blizzard and the Outdoor Adventure Center,” Rohrbach said. “It’s some activities that students can use so it’s not just eating places.”

Jessica Peterson, card services program assistant, said using Hobo Dough off campus has its perks.

“Many of the off-campus merchants, if you pay with Hobo Dough, you get an extra something,” Peterson said. “Like at Qdoba, you get a free soda. All of them have a plus for using Hobo Dough at their business.”

While the function of Hobo Dough has remained constant, it wasn’t always required. 

Avis Beninga, senior secretary, remembers when Hobo Dough accounts were optional.

“It makes me laugh when I look back and you had to apply to have Hobo Dough on their card, and now it’s on every ID that we issue,” Beninga said.

In honor of everything Hobo Dough has become, Card Services celebrated the anniversary Nov. 16 and 17 by passing out cider, cookies and prizes to anyone who stopped by. 

Kasey Schmidt, junior agricultural education major, was thrilled to find out she won something.

“I stopped in cards service and filled out a slip with my name and ID. I won a free car wash,” Schmidt said. “I didn’t know how many people were going to enter or heard about the drawing. It felt good.”

The celebration has been used as a form of education, too. 

Peterson said many people on campus are not informed about what Hobo Dough can do.

“Over the past few days, we’ve had a lot of people stop in and they’ll ask questions,” Peterson said. “We do have people here and there who will randomly win a prize of Hobo Dough and say, ‘I don’t have a Hobo Dough account.’ They do, everyone does. It’s just that they weren’t informed.”

The Card Services Office want to continue to grow the service as the future progresses.

“We are always slowly growing,” Rohrbach said. “We’ve had a pretty good 20-year history.”