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UWRF issues newly designed ID cards for security purposes

October 1, 2009

Over the summer, UW-River Falls invested in a new card reader system to govern residence hall access, and has issued new campus ID cards to all on-campus students. The cards, which were also aesthetically redesigned, represent a security update for campus. 

“The holographic plastic surrounding is used for security reasons so that you can’t duplicate the card,” UWRF Chief Information Officer Steve Reed said.

Christine Finley, a UWRF student, thinks that the new cards are a good idea, as well as convenient.

“I really like the new cards,” Finley said. “You can keep the card right in your pocket and it will open the door. 
It’s really convenient when you have your hands full.”

The residence halls on campus went from having “meg strip” ID card readers to “proximity” ID card readers. 

The difference lies in how the card is used for door access. With magnetic strip IDs, users must slide the card through a wall-mounted reader, whereas the proximity IDs require the user to simply hold the car near the reader for the door to unlock.

All students living on campus received their new ID card this year, free of charge. The cost to replace lost IDs has increased, however, from $10 to $15. 

“The proximity reader in the card is really why it costs more,” Reed said. “It’s the technology.”

The University used the previous card readers for eight years.

“The old card system was outdated,” Reed said. “The longevity of the new system is greater than our old one. The card is more secure-it’s a lot more difficult to compromise. From a fiscal and a student fee [standpoint] it has a longer life span.”

Sandi Scott-Duex, the director of Residence Life, said she thinks that the new ID cards are a good idea from a residence life standpoint. 

“For us, I think it’s an excellent financial decision… we budgeted for this three to five years ago so that we could plan for the replacement of the hardware,” she said, “Because in the long run we will have to replace the hardware less often.”

Some students around campus have been skeptical of the new card systems given the economy.

“I think the new cards look good, but I think the University probably could have waited for a while,” UWRF junior Sarah Nickerson said. “Our tuition went up and now we are spending our money on new ID cards when our old ones worked.  I think it’s just a bad time in the economy.”

UWRF officials felt the update was a necessary cost.

“I think it’s very difficult to place a dollar amount on security until something bad happens,” Reed said. “If the technology exists, if we can afford the technology, make it affect the safety of students and it’s reliable, I think it’s a very good idea to have them.”