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ISSUE 119 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 9/30/2005

One-card discussed

By Emelie Heltsley
Staff Writer

Friday, September 30, 2005

After months of deliberation, discussion and debates over the installation of a one-card system for St. Olaf, Student Government Association (SGA) President Thomas Rusert '06 said it is only a matter of time before campus moves to a one-card system.

While the program could take several years to integrate into the current system, the one-card committee is no longer discussing if the program will come to campus, but how.

"The question isn't whether there will be a one-card system, but how we should implement a one-card system on campus so it enhances campus life rather than interrupts it," Rusert said.

One-card system vendors came to campus Tuesday to give presentations to a 17-member one-card committee made up of representatives from the student body, the treasurer's office, Information and Instructional Technologies (IIT), the library, the bookstore, the Dean's office, locksmiths and Residence Life office, to name several groups involved. The committee has been discussing the one-card issue since last spring.

"We're working on it," said Rusert, who is a member of the committee. "It can't just happen with the snap of a finger."

Rusert detailed the proposed one-card system and listed several advantages for students as well as questions students might have about the one-card system.

One advantage Rusert mentioned is the combination of a key-card, laundry card and student ID into one card with a magnetized swipe strip instead of a barcode.

The card would have an optional debit function separate from the student's private savings or checking account that would allow students or their parents to put money onto the card.

That money could be used anywhere on campus that had a card-reader, from the copy machines and vending machines to the Pause and the bookstore.

"One can see how it can't be rushed into," Rusert said, after listing the many aspects of campus life that would be affected by a one card system.

Rusert addressed the issue of when the system would be installed on campus, expressing hope that sophomores at St. Olaf will see the one card before they graduate.

"We won't be seeing the [ID] cards changing this year, but decisions will be made," he said.

Decisions will include where card-readers will be located around campus, if a St. Olaf one-card should be able to work at Carleton College facilities as well, and what the new card should be called.

"Should it be the 'Ole Card'?" Rusert asked. "We're open to suggestions."

Another question Rusert addressed was security concerns.

"Suddenly there is a card with all this information that goes beyond birthdays and into students' bank accounts," he said.

Having a laundry card, key card and ID card all combined into one card is an attractive option to many students, but what happens when that one card gets lost in the library, stolen from a backpack or left on a cafeteria tray?

"The cards will be able to be deactivated by students immediately on-line," Rusert said. "If you lose it Friday, you can deactivate it quickly."

The committee raised concern about the possibility of a system crash. However system vendors said their systems are incredibly reliable and resistant to crashes.

The next big question is how much the system will cost.

"We cannot give definite numbers at this point," Rusert said. He did say, however, that overall cost "will not be that expensive."

As Rusert explained, magnetic scanners in various campus locations (such as the bookstore, vending machines and laundry facilities) would be easier for students to use than cash.

"Vendors would want to provide them," he said, as the scanners would facilitate more frequent use and more profits for the companies.

Rusert also said that the treasurer's office is already planning for the cost required to phase in the one card system over the course of a few years.

"We wouldn't be adding new stuff, but replacing old stuff," Rusert said.

As SGA president, Rusert said that he will make a concerted effort to inform students as to important steps in the implementation of the one-card system.

"As decisions are made, we will keep communication open," Rusert said. Students are encouraged to talk to their residence hall SGA senator with questions or ideas about the one-card system.

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