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ISSUE 120 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/22/2006

OLE Card system simplifies

By Michael Lenz
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 22, 2006

The new school year greeted students with new black and gold identification cards required in Stav Hall and the campus libraries. The identification cards are part of new OLE Card system, designed to simplify student life. The cards carry OLE dollars, money and part of the board plan, giving students a campus debit card at the Cage, Lion’s Pause and the Bookstore.

Vice President and Treasurer Alan Norton said that "it was time" for a new card system. In addition to making students’ lives simpler with fewer cards to carry around, the "One Card" system keeps a database of where each card has been used.

Kris Vatter, director of student activities, anticipates the cards being swiped at Pause events in order to track what kind of students attend what kinds of bands.

Norton describes the new card system as "robust" because it can be expanded for a variety of uses. For example, the new cards are expected to replace the white key cards for all residence hall doors by the end of the fall. Hilleboe and Kittelsby Halls are currently testing the new system. Pamela McDowell, director of Residence Life, says the new door system at Hill-Kitt has been a success, aside from a few glitches in August which have been corrected. Currently, the back door of Skoglund Athletic Center is also on the new card system.

In the 2007-2008 academic year, laundry machines will be replaced with units on the OLE Card. Carleton College, which has adopted a new system in conjunction with St. Olaf, has already received some new machines.

Norton also anticipates future campus vending machines being compatible with the OLE card.

Norton estimates the new system cost St. Olaf (approximately) $50,000, but notes that the amount of work the St. Olaf staff put into the project was even more expensive.

At St. Olaf, replacements for lost cards will cost $25; they cost $10 at Luther College, Concordia College and Carleton College, all schools with similar card programs. In fact, St. Olaf and Carleton share in the “One Card” upgrade; they are on exactly the same system.

Norton says that the cost of a replacement card reflects the large amount of time the St. Olaf staff has put into making the new system work so well, as well as a small deterrent for losing cards.

These upgrades put St. Olaf into the mainstream of other colleges and universities. Even five years ago, this technology was not considered cutting edge, and many larger universities had programs similar to the new OLE card.

While it is too early to tell how popular OLE dollars will become with the student population, on Sept. 11, $10.25 in OLE dollars was spent in the Pause, rising to $20.25 the next day. Total Pause sales added to about $600 both days. Vatter notes that as students get used to the system, they will be more likely to remember the odd dollar left on their card and buy something.

The Student Government Association (SGA) has promoted the OLE card through signs around campus, the OLE card website, and other methods.

SGA Vice President Matthew Stortz said that students should understand the new system in which the college is investing.

"This is really a card for the students," he said.

SGA is also looking for student feedback on the new system. Stortz said, "If students have problems or frustrations, we really want to know about it."

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