The OWU ID is a student’s life condensed into plastic: it is used for food, library books, and building access all over campus. But if broke, it can be the bane of a student’s very existence.
The cheap, 50-cent cards have design flaws, however. Director of Public Safety, Robert Wood, said that the school has postponed replacing the system for years, using the funds for other projects.
“I think it’s a top priority…by this point, we’re already two generations behind in technology,” Wood said.
According to Wood, Ohio Wesleyan has had the swipe-card system for the last 20 years. However, technology has evolved rapidly since the equipment was installed–the IDenticard parts are no longer manufactured.
“We’ve been considering changing systems for the last few years, but what really pushed us was the fact that the parts stopped being manufactured over the summer,” Wood said.
To deal with the wear-and-tear, Ohio Wesleyan has considered phasing in smart-cards. Smart-cards would be a substantial upgrade from the current system as they hold their own information.
“The current swipe cards need to talk to the computer system: if it’s down, students can’t get food,” Wood said. “Smart cards contain their own data, so each purchase is tracked inside of the card. The total system upkeep would be lower.”
The school has not yet switched systems because of high transitional costs. Wood said that it would cost the school between 75,000 – 200,000 dollars to replace all of the current mechanisms.
In addition, the new cards would cost up to 2.50 dollars more than the current ID cards. Wood said the school plans to create smart-swipe hybrids so the transition process moves smoother. Hybrid cards would allow the school to slowly switch systems and mitigate costs.
Wood estimated the hybrid cards would be introduced within the next few years to incoming freshmen because the lagging technology has affected current students.
Junior Alison Evans said that she has had to replace three cards so far. “They always break in the same spot, right down the middle,” Evans said.
However, students have proven to be resourceful, finding ways to fix their cards.
Sophomore Madeline Lank said she has seen a variety of ways to keep cards working in her two years as a student.
“I’ve seen people using tape over the magnetic strips so they can scan,” Lank said. “Or holding it together so they don’t have to throw down cash for another one.”