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Online ID card system to get upgrade

March 14, 2013

The UW-River Falls carding office budget remains approved and supported by student government, despite Student Senate and the Facilities and Fees Board confusion regarding what the carding office will be using their segregated fee increase for.

Segregated fees are the fees students pay each semester or year to support things such as the carding office. The carding office was approved by Senate for a 15 cent increase that will be paid for by students.

One of the things the segregated fee will go to is the system they are transitioning to that will allow students to more easily monitor the use of their student identification (ID) cards online.

Another place this money is going will be to help pay for the cards the office prints.
The office switched from using ID cards that cost just over $1, to cards that currently cost almost $8 to print.

That cost has been absorbed into its budget and in other budgets around campus, like the Residence Life and dining service’s budget, but the carding office is now also playing a role in that payment.

Jason Winget is the infrastructure and security technologies manger for the UWRF Division of Technology Services (DoTS). He said that the 5 percent increase to students will only cover part of these costs, but that the increase was necessary and helpful to be able to afford the new system and to help pay for ID cards.

“It would have been much more difficult without this increase to have found those dollars [in the budget],” Winget said.

Originally, when the two groups met and voted to support the 5 percent increase to the budget, which students would pay through their segregated fees, they were under the impression that the money would go to improving the quality of student ID cards.

In actuality, that money is going to support a new online system for the cards and to go toward paying for part of card printing of the current cards.

“We’re not doing anything to the card and we’re not going to be doing anything to our main software we use to manage everything. The only piece of the puzzle that we’re replacing is our online carding office. Just that piece of software,” said Mike Hovestol, who is in change of the carding office.

The online carding office is what students can look at online to see the remaining balance of their Falcon Dollars and their meal plan. This is also where students and family members can deposit money onto their card accounts. This software will allow everything to be on one webpage, Hovestol said.

This is different from the current system, which has separate web pages for dining dollars, dining services and for Falcon Dollars.

The consolidation to one page is supposed to make it more user-friendly for students.
If students are unaware of the change in systems, Hovestol said that there will be links that take them to the page they need to be at.

The webpage will look different, but “we can brand it and change the colors and things. Were going to try to make it look as similar as possible,” he said.

The reason this new system, CBOARD, was chosen to be implemented was because the one currently in use was designed 10 years ago and was written with old computer software.
This software is also being used in other areas and would make the system more cohesive for campus as a whole, Hovestol said.

“It’s legacy code was written in a language that they don’t even program anymore,” Hovestol said.

He said this could be an issue if something breaks in the system because then they have to find someone who can read and write the old code to fix it.

This new system will have code that people currently in the IT field, like the carding office and DoTS, are familiar with. Now if something were to go wrong in the system and change needed to be made, they would be able to fix it.

Fortunately, when the switch over occurs, Hovestol said he does not see it requiring too much work from their end of the situation. He said that the people at UWRF who will be doing the transfer will be mostly professional staff or a few student staff if necessary.
This new system will be costing $3,750 and a portion of that money was granted to them through a segregated fee increase that the Facilities and Fees Board and Student Senate voted on. That recommendation was sent to the chancellor to approve.

Dominic Riel, Facilities and Fees Board chair, said Chancellor Dean Van Galen  “ultimately makes the decision on that fee” being put into action, but added that he “has always been very much in support of the student opinion.”

Riel said he is confident the chancellor will support the recommendation.
For clarification, carding services will not be updating their card printer this coming year, which means that identification cards that students are currently using will be continued to be used next year.

There was talk about buying a printer that would create cards with a thicker laminate on them when the one they have currently does not function anymore, but Hovestol said he does not anticipate that being in this next year’s budget unless it were to break unexpectedly.
Along with that, there were mentions of the printing system changing to one that required a card swipe, but that is not going to be put into effect for at least another year.

This next year, the only change the carding office will be making will be to change from the old online system to the new online system.