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Indiana University’s Student Association has passed a resolution that will allow students’ preferred names to appear on their IDs rather than their legal names.

Indiana the latest in a series of universities to offer the preferred name option. The policy at IU will display the preferred name on the front of the card, though students’ legal names will still be displayed on the back of the ID card.

As reported by the Indiana Daily Student, there is a large enough percentage of transgender students on the Indiana campus that a new policy protecting their identities and rights was warranted.

As with other universities, the preferred name policy at Indiana is being instituted to allow students to identify themselves without unnecessary confusion or personal explanations when presenting their university ID on campus. According to the report, the new policy could include registar functions as well, allowing students to use their preferred names for official class rosters.

At the time of card issuance, the student provides both a preferred name and legal name. Preferred name policies are designed to span gender, race and ethnicity and provide a means for students to identify themselves as they see fit.

Indiana already has a preferred nickname option with its student IDs, but the latest preferred name policy requires the student’s legal name to appear on the back of the card. This, according to university officials, is to assist in correctly identifying a student in the case of an emergency.

CBORD has presented its 2014 Excellence Awards to one individual and two organizations at the company’s 35th annual User Group Conference held in Huntington Beach, California.

The award ceremony celebrates operational excellence, leadership and innovation across three categories: One CBORD, Visionary and Above & Beyond. Two of the awards went to the higher ed space, recognizing the efforts of one university card office and one individual.

The company’s One CBORD recognition was awarded to Mercy Health for its innovative implementation of CBORD’s Odyssey PCS and Nutrition Service Suite. Using CBORD’s Room Service Choice, Mercy Health can use a single, consolidated call center to take patient meal orders from hospitals statewide.

Higher education shined at the awards ceremony, with the remaining awards going to universities that excelled in technological achievement, leadership and service.

CBORD’s Visionary Award honors organizations pushing the boundaries of technology to serve their customers in new and innovative ways. The University at Buffalo received the Visionary Award for enhancing its campus card system with mobile availability.

Buffalo’s Campus Dining & Shops and UB Card teams have provided university students with a mobile solution that makes transactions and account management more convenient. Buffalo has expanded its use of CS Gold with CBORD Mobile ID, enabling students to make purchases at vending and laundry machines directly from their smart phones.

The university was also recognized for taking campus card purchasing power beyond the confines of campus by using CBORD’s UGryd commerce platform in a self-operated model.

The Above & Beyond Award honors an individual for leadership and exceptional service not only to their respective university, but to fellow CBORD users as well.

Kathy Gallagher, director of the Wildcard program at Villanova University, and her team have demonstrated this commitment to innovation and customer service. In addition to her position with Villanova, Gallagher also serves colleagues from other universities through her participation in CBORD’s User Advisory Council.

Gallagher’s work with CBORD’s User Advisory Council sees her present at conferences, as well as host other universities on campus to demonstrate the strategies that have been successful at Villanova.

CBORD’s 36th annual User Group Conference is scheduled to be held October 18–21, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.

When it comes to technology, simpler is often better. At least that’s the idea at the University of Baltimore, where faculty, staff and students were carrying a photo ID card and parking card, each adorned with stickers for further use at the campus library and recreation center.

The university’s ID card system was fragmented, dated and problematic. The university was facing a challenge that required a smart solution, which came in the form of the new Bee Card.

“Initially the campus had both online and offline door readers supporting both mag stripe and prox,” explains Zach Griffey, campus card manager at the University of Baltimore. “These locks were not uniformly installed across campus and were not used to the best of their capabilities.

Because the card readers installed throughout the campus were primarily offline, it prevented instantaneous, campus-wide lockdown of buildings – a vital function in emergency situations. They wanted a true access control solution that would protect its people and assets, as well as help the university better manage and monitor its services.

Realizing the limitations of both magnetic stripe and proximity cards – not the least of which is that the cards are easily duplicated – the university decided to pursue a more secure and advanced method of access control.

The solution

The university started the multi-use card program in July of 2010 and went live in October 2011, says Griffey. The institution is using CardSmith for its transaction system, DataCard’s ID Center for card production software and DataCard SP75+ printers. The university worked with Allegion and Capital Card – now owned by IdentiSys – for cardstock, printers, software, and support, Griffey explains.

For access control, the university upgraded to Lenel On-Guard in 2013 and chose Allegion’s aptiQ multi-technology readers and contactless credentials.

With the new system, a single smart card can be used for multiple applications, helping consolidate services and provide greater convenience for the cardholder, explains Griffey. The MIFARE Classic cards can be used for access control, data storage, cashless vending, parking and campus transit.

One lock, multiple technologies

The University of Baltimore is an urban campus, making student and faculty security of the utmost priority. “The initial launch first covered the outer doors of each building for ingress and egress,” says Griffey. “From there, we expanded inward to several suites, tech spaces, rooms, labs and special areas.”

At the onset of the project, the university installed 70 aptiQ multi-technology readers on both academic and administrative buildings throughout campus. The benefits of the readers were evident from the start as quick-connect cables and simple mounting brackets simplified installation.

The multi-technology capabilities of the readers provided the university with a level of flexibility that made the transition from the existing system simpler. The aptiQ reader interfaces with nearly any credential type. This enabled the university to transition in phases while still having a reader that worked with the university’s existing credentials that would remain in use until the system was fully implemented.

The aptiQ multi-technology reader handles applicable ISO standards – 14443A, 14443B, 15693 – is FIPS 201-1 compliant, and can also read 125 kHz proximity in a single unit. Multi-technology magnetic stripe readers are also available.

Griffey also highlights the aesthetic aspect of the new readers, which feature a sleek design that blends well with the university’s brand. The readers are easily identifiable without being intrusive on building architecture.

Management of the Lenel/aptiQ access control system has been a partnership between the University of Baltimore Police Department, the Office of Campus Card Operations and the Office of Technology Services. There are now several secure buildings on campus that leverage the card readers, and the university is able to monitor, track and control access into those buildings. As an added security feature, campus-wide lockdown can be initiated with the push of a single button.

“To date, the university has upgraded all readers on campus to online MIFARE locks that are centrally controlled by Lenel On-Guard 2013,” explains Griffey. “Since the project started in 2011, we’ve also expanded from 35 readers to over 120 readers.”

The Office of Campus Card Operations manages the card technology, including production and distribution of the Bee Card. Prior to the implementation in 2011, Griffey worked with Allegion and IdentiSys and found that they could not only record the secure number from each card, but also encode different information on the MIFARE chip inside each card. At present, each Bee Card has several sectors encoded with information that enables control of multiple functions with the single card.

Baltimore’s demands for an open architecture access control system included:

The Bee Card serves 10 different campus functions:

A new student-led proposal at Columbia University is looking to place stickers on student ID cards that display contact information for sexual and mental health resources.

The student proposal is working with Columbia’s Community Health House, to print some 8,000 stickers that list the contact information for Sexual Violence Response and Counseling and Psychological Services. The stickers are designed to fit on the back of existing Columbia student ID cards.

As reported by the Columbia Spectator, the project was inspired by a poster containing the contacts for these organizations that was placed on the back of a bathroom stall. The idea of the stickers is to make those resources more accessible for students, placing it in their pocket, rather than in a static location.

The backs of the Columbia student ID card already features the contact information for university emergency medical services, but there is just enough unused white space for the additional emergency contacts.

Once the stickers were designed, the student proposal went to Columbia’s Residential Life, who sponsored the purchase of the stickers – a grand total of $90 as the stickers cost just a penny each.

While the current proposal is focusing solely on adhesive add-ons for student ID’s, future plans include working with Columbia’s card office to print the information for Sexual Violence Response and Counseling and Psychological Services directly onto each new ID card.

With sexual assault and mental health conditions on the rise on college campuses, making the appropriate resources readily available to students when they need them most can be a vital service. As demonstrated by the efforts of Columbia students, these efforts can be as simple and cost effective as penny stickers on the backs of IDs – a minor cost when it comes to securing the health and safety of students.

ID.me has acquired student discount platform Perkla in an announcement at Fashion Digital NY, a fashion and e-commerce centric event for start-up companies. The acquisition intends to protect retailers from fraud, while helping them reach student shoppers in a more personal and direct manner.

Based in McLean, Virginia, ID.me is a digital verification company that enables members of various groups to digitally verify their identification online. Perkla, meanwhile, is the brainchild of former Columbia Business School classmates Justin Belmont, Josh Kaplan and Marc Lombardo that provides retail discounts to students shopping online.

Perkla was able to secure partnerships with more than 40 leading student retailers en route to providing a student-centric service that was accessed by student shoppers from over 150 colleges and universities nationwide.

ID.me’s technology allows student shoppers to prove their identity online, unlocking exclusive student discounts and cash back rewards otherwise unavailable on the web. The ID.me Marketplace also rewards students with increased cash back on purchases when they share offers through their Facebook account or if they make repeat purchases through the ID.me site.

It seems that ID.me is looking to expand into a new market of student shoppers, particularly those who used Perkla, as a way to find deals specifically for students at retailers and brands. Perkla offers deals for a number of recognizable brands including J.Crew, Cole Haan, Apple and the New York Times.

As a result of the acquisition, students using Perkla can now verify their identities and access student-only deals through ID.me’s retail rewards marketplace.

ID.me’s existing network of commercial partners is impressive as well, boasting a roster that includes Under Armour, Nordstrom, Target, Best Buy, Overstock, Macy’s and Walmart amongst others. Per the acquisition, Perkla CEO Justin Belmon will be assigned a new position as ID.me’s Director of Product Management to lead ID.me’s retail rewards marketplace.

Students attending the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus can now ride Pinellas County buses for free when they show drivers their student ID.

The feeder campus of more than 6,000 students and faculty instituted the new transit program this month making it the latest organization to participate in Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s universal pass program, or U-Pass for short.

As reported by the St. Petersburg Tribune, the university will pay $13,000 to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority for the first year of the program. In return, students, faculty and staff of USF St. Petersburg will receive free access to buses, shuttles and trolleys.

The university and its students stand to benefit from the new program, as roughly 10% of the USF St. Petersburg’s 6,000 students live on campus, and many of them don’t have a car.

Other U-Pass programs have been successful in the area, and are becoming increasingly common in communities with transit systems that serve both public workers and students.

PSTA launched U-Pass earlier this year and has also established an agreement with the city of St. Petersburg as well as with St. Petersburg College to make free rides available for employees and students.

In that agreement, St. Petersburg College funded $28,000 for the first year of its contract with PSTA. Funding amounts are based on estimates of how many students will utilize public transit.

Online photo submission is helping solve an age old problem. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a bad hair day, a stain on your shirt, the dreaded blink or just an ugly smile, everyone has had a bad experience on picture day.

But what if there were a way to avoid this age-old embarrassment altogether? What if you could guarantee the picture-perfect ID photo? Well, you can.

Universities nationwide are starting to enable their students to self-submit their ID card photos online. It’s a practice that’s not only giving students a controlled freedom over the likeness that appears on their ID card, but it’s also helping to streamline card office processes for universities large and small.

The question may become not whether to enable online submission, but whether to build an in-house solution or purchase a system from a third-party vendor.

The backdrop

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln has been offering online photo submission since 2009 thanks to a system developed by internal university IT resources. Despite slow initial adoption, the card office hasn’t looked back.

“Prior to self-submitted photos, students came in for new student enrollment with their parents,” says Julie Yardley, manager of the University of Nebraska’s NCard Office. “During that orientation event, group leaders would take roughly 20 students at a time and bring them to the card office where we would take a photo, print the card and issue the photo ID to the student before they left the office.”

Working in a university card office in between June and August is hardly an enviable position. School may be out for most students, but for a campus card office the summer months are more akin to a late season push for the playoffs than a summer vacation – a sentiment that is echoed by Yardley.

“During orientation, there were days when we had between 250-300 students visit the card office in a day,” says Yardley. “It takes the printers about two minutes to print a card, so you’re dealing with a time constraint – plus the printers get hot and have to cool down a bit.”

There are 25,000 students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and between graduate, international and new student enrollment – along with the Nebraska’s dental, nursing and law colleges – Yardley estimates that the NCard office will serve about 6,500 new students over the course of the summer.

“We start printing cards for the summer by the end of April, with the last-minute photo submission rush happening around the first week of June,” Yardley explains.

It’s this rush at orientation where online photo submission pays dividends for card office employees. “In August we have a ton of people that would have to come to the office because there wasn’t another way to get their photo to us,” Yardley explains. “It made an already chaotic month even worse.”

“If even half of those students submitted their photo online, you’re saving wear and tear on the printer by not producing 250 photos and printing the same number of cards in a single day,” she explains.

Once a university makes the decision to offer online photo submission, the trick is getting students to use it. Without widespread adoption, the job of the card office employee remains just as challenging as ever.

As Yardley explains, a turning point for the online photo submission program at Nebraska was the inclusion of new student enrollment. “Now, when every new student enrolls, they automatically get an email telling them that they can submit their ID photos online along with the link to our website.”

Sweet home Alabama

The University of Alabama is in its fourth year using its in-house photo submission application and reports tremendous adoption rates.

For Jeanine Brooks, director of the Action Card at the University of Alabama, the decision to build an in-house solution just made sense. “It allowed us to utilize campus resources – existing servers, application access via campus portal as well as the university’s trained and knowledgeable personnel.”

An in-house solution also gave the card office flexibility for expansion, the ability to quickly react to requested process changes and easy integration with the student information system, she adds.

“Online photo submission enables us to allocate our resources throughout the summer appropriately. Before we had a time crunch,” says Brooks. “Now we have photos coming in daily, so we can spread the work out and reduce overtime.”

Brooks cites a tight relationship with campus IT as being pivotal to the building, maintenance and growth of Alabama’s online photo submission system.

At the end of year three of photo submission, 91% of incoming Alabama freshmen were submitting their ID photos online. It’s an impressive statistic when you consider the size of the university – 34,582 students enrolled and 70,000 active cardholders.

Including parents in checklist reminders has proven vital to increasing online photo submissions, Brooks says. Staff found that the best time for reminders was one to two weeks prior to an orientation session, with specific emphasis that photo upload is required before the session.

It’s rare, however for a student to check their email on a daily basis, so Brooks also used social media, mobile apps, texts and phone calls to spread the word about online photo submission.

In the near future, Alabama has plans to launch a mobile app for orientation and use it as a means to further inform students of the online photo submission process. Using the smart phone app will enable the card office to leverage pop-up reminders, social media connections and in-app to-do lists to make sure students are informed in advance.

Building online photo submission in-house

Liberty University sees roughly 3,000 students at the beginning of each academic year – 1,600 of whom participate in orientation programs. For the Lynchburg, Vir.-based institution, the convenience of self-submitted photos has been a blessing.

In 2012, Liberty decided to rewrite its photo submission program, citing the prior version’s poor user interface and low student adoption. Since Liberty card services launched the new system, the adoption rate has surpassed 80%.

Staff strategically opted to launch the new product in the middle of a semester.

“Any school looking to adopt a system like this will find that it can be very disruptive to card service operations,” explains Tony Erskine, senior IT developer at Liberty University. “To attempt it in August would be folly.”

Liberty set a target date of October, knowing card services would get a trickle of students in the beginning so that the load on the system could be increased steadily over time.

“Online photo submission adds the convenience of 24/7 customer service because students aren’t tied to Liberty’s card office hours of operation,” says Deborah Nightingale, director of card services at Liberty University. “Its also an operational advantage in that it alleviates the number of students that have to visit the office.”

Nightingale says the in-house development was key to the system’s success.

“Important to the process was card services’ engagement while the application was being built,” says Erskine. “Card services did not simply provide a list of requirements, they participated actively in the process to ensure that IT was solving the correct problems.”

The system enables admins to send tailored emails to students detailing the problems with a submitted photo. “The messages aren’t generated manually,” says Erskine. “The denial process has checkboxes for all the guidelines and students will get a bulleted list of where they went wrong with their submitted photo.”

On the backend, meanwhile, there are pre-created list of reasons for denying a photo, with admins having the ability to add or remove reasons on the fly. The user interface also makes sorting submissions easy for campus card employees, something that Nightingale sees as a luxury.

“Photo submissions can be sorted by date of when cards need to be mailed out or picked up, which enables card services personnel to see which card requests are more pressing or urgent,” says Nightingale.

Students, meanwhile, have the ability to crop photos at the time of submission, and once card services receives the photo, card office employees have the ability to re-crop if necessary.

Erskine explains that building an in-house solution isn’t without its challenges, and both monetary and resource costs can be daunting. He stresses that a university must consider these costs before attempting to build out their own solution.

“The technical learning curve was steep and posed a challenge to IT,” Erskine explains. “It’s a big application and some of the members of the IT team were relatively junior – so there was a reasonably high labor cost in getting everybody up to speed.”

In the mail

As with other universities, Liberty sends emails to students that direct them to the photo upload application. Once there, student initiates the process by creating a card request.

At Liberty, however, students have the option to have their printed ID card sent to their home or permanent address before they ever set foot on campus for orientation. It’s an interesting take on the ID issuance process that Liberty has built directly into its photo upload process.

“They upload the photo that they selected along with a scanned image of their drivers license or other government ID,” explains Erskine. “Then the student decides how they want to receive their card – pick up at card services or mailed to them at home – and finally agree to card services terms and conditions.”

Mailing IDs prior to a student’s arrival on campus introduces new challenges in ID vetting. To safeguard this process, several data points are examined.

“Students must first be authenticated with Liberty’s single sign-on system to prove that the student is who they say they are,” says Erskine. “The next step is to upload a photo of their government ID, which card services examines to make sure that the ID photo matches the actual person.”

As an added precaution, Nightingale insists that Liberty does not mail ID cards to any address that isn’t already in the university’s banner system; only approved school addresses, permanent home addresses or the like. Nightingale explains that the cards that are mailed to students at home are sent in an inactive state, leaving the student to activate the card once it arrives to their home address.

It seems to be a popular option as Nightingale estimates that some 9,000 students received their IDs in the mail as of fall 2012.

Going off campus

If building a solution in house doesn’t sound like an attractive option, there are alternatives. Enter MyPhoto.

MyPhoto is a Web-based photo upload application developed to specifically to streamline student photo submissions. It’s a solution that could put this valuable service within reach for campuses of all shapes and sizes without the need to devote internal developer resources.

“We’ve found that universities need a better way of getting their photo IDs to students, and the MyPhoto app helps with that issuance,” says Alan Jacubenta, owner of MyPhoto and parent company Mango Bay Internet.

Jacubenta started the Cleveland-based Mango Bay Internet in 1997, to provide website development, Internet marketing and IT solutions. It wasn’t until he was approached by Emory University in 2010, however, that he discovered the need for a reliable online photo submission application.

“We did some research, proposed a solution based on what Emory University needed, and we came up with a five-step process,” Jacubenta explains. As of August of 2013, he says Emory reported a 95% acceptance rate amongst incoming freshmen.

The five-step process for photo upload

Anyone who deals with 18-year-old college students knows that in order for them to participate a system has to be quick, easy and painless, an idea that Jacubenta had in mind when developing the MyPhoto process.

When a student first visits the MyPhoto portal, they are greeted with the detailed instructions of the upload process. “We realize that most students aren’t going to read this, but for the few who do take the time, we outline the entire process in detail,” says Jacubenta.

The second step is to login with a university account. “Once the student logs in, we pre-populate our application with some data from the institution – first and last name, email address and in some cases the school the student will be attending,” explains Jacubenta.

The third step sees the student select their desired photo, crop and edit it via the interface that enables them to modify the photo to the specifications from the university. Once the student has successfully cropped and edited their photo, they are asked to confirm that they are satisfied with the selection to complete step four.

He notes that built-in cropping is something of a Holy Grail for online photo submission. As an added level of quality control, MyPhoto can display a set of unacceptable photos to better aid the student in cropping and selection.

“We can also place a sample university ID photo next to the submission window so that the student can compare and match the aspect ratio and dimensions of the photo to best meet the university’s parameters,” says Jacubenta.

The final step is to issue the student a tracking number, which matches their university-issued student ID number. For peace of mind, the student can check the status of their photo at anytime throughout the process.

While this may seem like a lengthy process, it can take as little as two minutes.

Behind the camera

While online photo submission is designed to be a student-facing system, the campus card administrator’s experience is equally important. The system will only be as efficient as the people who have to use it, and as Jacubenta explains, the card office administrator has not been overlooked.

“The approve/deny process is user friendly. It shows not only the student’s submission but is also accompanied by a thumbnail of the photo,” explains Jacubenta. “The solution also features search and archival functions that enable administrators to sort submissions by name, pending status of the submitted photo, the semester in which the student will be arriving on campus as well as what college the student will be attending.”

The administrator can conduct a search using any of these parameters and export that queried list to an Excel document.

In addition to sending custom email messages directly from the application dashboard, the cropping tool is also made available to the administrator for last-minute edits. Jacubenta explains that a number of universities offering self-submitted photos still require system admins to manually crop photos outside the photo upload system, rather than within the application itself.

“Our software enables a card office admin to crop a photo without having to take the photo out to external editing software,” says Jacubenta. “This is great for those photos that only require slight adjustments or cropping, as it saves time in the editing process on the part of the admin.”

Another control feature of MyPhoto is the ability for the master admin to issue and manage the privileges of sub admin accounts. This gives a card office the ability to allow multiple employees to interact with the system and approve photos.

The first thing the admin sees when logging in to the MyPhoto dashboard is a quick view of any status-pending photos in the system. According to Jacubenta, admin users will typically go in and mass approve these photos, with the exception of the few unacceptable ones. There is also an “archive all” option that enables the admin to clear the dashboard of photo submissions at the end of a semester, a la spring cleaning.

A focused solution

Paying for a third-party solution doesn’t necessarily mean forfeiting creative control over your application. In fact, the team at MyPhoto strives to do just the opposite, giving the university as much or as little control over the creation of their photo upload portal as they desire.

Jacubenta works with each implementation individually, tailoring the MyPhoto solution to each university and its specific requirements.

While LDAP and Active Directory integrations are included in the base price of the MyPhoto application, special requests are common. As an example, MyPhoto has been integrated with Oracle databases following specific client requests, he explains.

The one-time license fee is currently set at $9874, with annual maintenance, support and update packages available as add-ons. “We feel that the cost of our solution versus the cost of assets to build this system internally, gives us a really good offering and a competitive price point,” says Jacubenta.

The application is customized to match the institution’s website. Once a design has been approved and technical requirements addressed, the site is made live. The entire process, start to finish, takes about four to six weeks pending any special requirements or implementation challenges, says Jacubenta.

Looking down the lens

MyPhoto is also looking at adding features to the application. In the future Jacubenta is contemplating the ability to turn the dashboard off completely, giving a university the power to cut off photo submissions at a certain date and time. He is also considering built-in metrics and reporting functions that could show a card office admin the time and cost savings resulting from the online submissions.

The system already supports photo uploads from desktop or laptop computers as well as from smart phones and tablets. Advancing the mobile compatibility will be a continued priority in the future.

Picture perfect

While online photo submission seems a no-brainer, it is vital that a university consider the options at its disposal.

Building a solution in house is great for those universities with plenty of resources, capital and strong relationships between card services and campus IT. This method can pay dividends when the right personnel are employed, but can be costly in both labor and resources.

For card offices that may not have developer resources at their disposal, companies like MyPhoto offer a viable, plug-and-play alternative that provides a comparable solution without the upkeep.

Whether the decision is made to support photo submission via an in-house or a third-party solution, it can provide a great customer service and reduce the burden on card office staff. It is a great way to spread the issuance workload out over slower summer months, allowing personnel to better focus efforts as students arrive on campus.

A student’s life doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Moreover, when your university is located in a city like Pasadena, California where there’s a lot to do, why not take a study break?

Students at Pasadena City College are reaping the benefits of their enrollment by using their student ID, the LancerCard, to access a variety of campus resources as well as some fun off-campus discounts in the greater Los Angeles area.

As reported by the PCC Courier, students use their LancerCards to access computer labs, learning assistance centers, rec facilities and library resources. These types of functions are standard fare for a campus credential, but the LancerCard also provides a variety of discounts on entertainment beyond the confines of campus.

PCC students can, for example, purchase discounted concert tickets to select events at the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, sometimes for as little as $10 or $20. The only requisite for these ticket deals are that the student must be enrolled full-time and must register and set up an account with the LA Phil website.

Beyond music, students can access other cultural hubs at a discounted rate. The Norton Simon Museum in Old Town Pasadena offers free admission to students with a valid ID, while the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pacific Asia Museum and the Pasadena Museum of History offer discounted rates to students who show their LancerCard at the gate.

Going to the movies has become almost comically expensive in recent years, but PCC students with a LancerCard ID can catch a midnight showing of a new release at a cheaper, matinee price.

Topping the lot, however, is a discount offered to PCC students at the various theme parks located in the Los Angeles area.

The LancerCard provides discounts at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, as well as at Universal Studios Hollywood in Burbank with students saving as much as $30 on admission. Discounted tickets are available on both the park websites and through PCC’s student bank located on campus.

There are seemingly countless practical uses and applications for the contemporary student ID card, but throwing in the occasional entertainment-centric perk could be a great way to capture students’ attention while fostering a renewed appreciation for your university’s ID.

The life of a college student is anything but lavish, and between tuition payments, living and food expenses, for some it can be difficult to make ends meet. It’s for this reason that the University of Toledo has opened its own food pantry for students in need of a meal.

The food pantry is located on Toledo’s campus in the basement of the interfaith center, and is open to any and all Toledo students that meet the pantry’s two requirements. The first requirement is a Toledo student status, whether undergrad, graduate, main campus or otherwise, and the student must hold a valid UT student ID. The second requirement is that the student must have a genuine need.

According to a report from The Independent Collegian, genuine need takes the student’s poverty level – an annual income of $17,000 or less – into consideration. Any student at or below this income level is considered to have need, and can thus utilize the pantry’s services. According to university officials, however, the pantry trusts students who claim to be hungry and will feed them regardless.

The idea for a food pantry for students at Toledo was first posed in 2012 but did not see approval until April of this year following increased interest in the project.

Toledo’s Center for Experiential Learning and Career Services department spearheaded the project, forming a partnership with the Toledo Seagate Food Bank, who helped to get the pantry up and running with the first week’s supply of food. The pantry also received their financial assistance from Feed Your Neighbor. Feed Your Neighbor offered the university its assistance via its network of 12 Toledo area food pantries.

According to the university, the pantry will assess its food needs once a month, and the Feed Your Neighbor program will provide for them until the university pantry is either self-sustaining or receives enough backing from other sources.

The pantry is stocked with primarily boxed and canned food, but as the pantry grows and becomes more stable, the pantry would like to add a refrigerator stocked with fresh foods.

There are a number of considerations that a campus card office must navigate when delivering a robust and functional student credential. For instance, choosing the right printer, card technology and even the proper printing method are all vital concerns, but there is another decision that must be made that precludes each of these factors.

The cardstock itself comes in a number of different flavors, each carrying benefits and limitations. As ColorID’s project manager, Todd Brooks explains, selecting the right card material is a decision worth contemplating.

Ante up

Campuses actually have options, and Brooks offers his list of things to things to consider.

“A university must first consider the technologies it needs in its card,” says Brooks. “Options include contact smart card chips for logging onto computers, contactless and prox chips for physical access, and magnetic stripes for payments and other uses.”

Brooks explains that the type of technology deployed on the card will affect what composition – or card material – you choose. “If you utilize a contact or contactless chip, I recommend a Composite or PC (Polycarbonate) cardstock because of how durable those materials are,” Brooks explains. “Mag stripe users generally assume PVC is sufficient, however Composite cardstock will provide a much longer life span and thus a lower number of reprints.”

Despite the overwhelming popularity of PVC and Composite cardstock, there is an array of material options out there today. Brooks provides his top materials in order of popularity:

At first glance

When it comes to telling the difference between the various materials, particularly PVC and Composite, some have questioned if there is a difference at all. Brooks explains that each card material does have its own characteristic.

Plastic cards are made from laminated sheets of plastic, and in the case of PVC cards, each of these sheets are 100% PVC material. For Composite cards, some of the sheets are made up of a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polyester resin material.

“Depending on the formulation needed (60/40, 80/20, etc.), that will adjust the type of layer used and thickness of each layer,” says Brooks. “Regardless, composite cards can dramatically increase the life of the card and are fair superior to 100% PVC cards.”

It’s possible to tell the materials apart in other ways as well, and depending on the university’s desired specifications, this may be worth considering.

“With PVC cardstock, you shouldn’t be able to see the layers on the edge of the card and it should look like one solid core piece of material,” explains Brooks. “Also, when handling a PVC card you should be able to snap the card in half after bending it back and forth over a dozen times or so.”

Likewise, Composite cardstock has its own telling features. “You may be able to see the layers,” says Brooks. “It depends on if your manufacturer uses the same color tone materials or if they use the standard coloration the materials come in.”

As Brook explains, the color of the layers does not impact with the durability, as Composite cardstock will always be more durable than PVC.

“Another way to tell if you have a composite cardstock is by bending a card back and forth,” says Brooks. “Regardless of how many times you bend a card back and forth it should not tear in half as a PVC card will.”

Quantifying durability is a challenge, but lifespan can give an indication. “One manufacturer’s testing shows between 3 and 8 times longer life than PVC for their different composite formulations,” he says.

Play to your hand

Understandably, there are cost differences between the various materials as well, adding another layer to the decision-making process.

“Cost differences can vary depending on the manufacturer and the formulation they use for their composite material,” says Brooks. “On average, a composite card will cost twice as much as 100% PVC.”

Cost and user wear and tear aside, a university has to print its cardstock. This is yet another factor to mull when selecting the material.

“PVC cards are very well suited for direct-to-card (DTC) type plastic card printers, while Composite cards are better suited than PVC for Reverse Transfer printing and overlaminating,” explains Brooks. “This is due primarily to the higher amounts of heat that are generated from these processes.”

“PVC cards tend to warp easily in high-heat conditions, and although it’s possible to print lamination on PVC cardstock, I don’t suggest this route,” Brooks adds.

Shuffling the deck

Let’s lay all the cards on the table. Different card materials, by their nature, are better suited to certain deployments than others. Here’s a definitive rundown.

Composite cardstock, regardless of its blend, will not be affected by severe cold or heat conditions, while at the same time its life span is very good at 4 or more years,” explains Brooks. “The only con is that some Composite materials render blank, white cardstock more of a tinted color instead of true white.”

Alternatively, Composite’s close competitor, 100% PVC cardstock is not so robust against extreme elements. “Under high heat or cold conditions PVC can became overly flexible or extremely brittle,” says Brooks. “The average life span of a PVC card is lower at two to four years.”

Polycarbonate cardstock, PC for short, is a relatively new option to the masses, according to Brooks. “Polycarbonate is stronger than Composite, however you will need to utilize a Reverse Transfer or Laser Engraving printer, as Direct-To-Card printing will not work on this card surface,” says Brooks.

Even smaller universities routinely issue tens of thousands of cards. That’s a lot of plastic. While there are options for the environmentally conscious campus, these materials have been not been used to wide degree on campus and care should be taken to learn about their limitations before selection.

The first is recycled cardstock, which as Brooks explains, is exactly what it sounds like. “Semi-used or non-spec’d cardstock is shredded and reused for this stock,” he says. “It’s similar to 100% PVC in terms of wear and tear, though the coloration is not white, it features more of a grayish look.”

Another green option is biodegradable, or BIOPVC cardstock. “Biodegradable cardstock is essentially a 100% PVC cardstock but the polymers that bind the PVC granules together are biodegradable,” explains Brooks. “The PVC will never decompose, but the card will revert back to a granule state after 5-7 years in the ground.”

Delving further into the biochemical realm, there’s PLA cardstock. Short for polylactic acid, PLA cardstock is a plastic material derived from cornstarch.

“Corn based cards are not 100% bio-gradable, they’re estimated around 85%. Normally, the core of the card is PLA and the outside shell is PVC,” Brooks explains. “Wear and tear is similar to both BIOPVC and 100% PVC, but is also affected by severe hot and cold conditions.”

But if science isn’t your thing, and you have a flair for the old school, there’s always wood. Sure they’re flammable and not exactly the best option for regular, daily student use, but the wood card is a niche option nonetheless.

“Believe it or not, wood cardstock is available in both laminated and non-laminated versions,” says Brooks. “We do not suggest utilizing wood cards inside your ID printer because of the heat the printer generates. Wood cardstock does, however, make a great short-term ID for conferences or special events.”

Turn up trumps

While there are a number of factors to consider when issuing a quality student credential, selecting the proper card material is one of the foundational decisions that must be made.

With a wide variety of material options – each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses – it can be easy to simply flip a coin and go with the first material you see. But cost, durability and environmental issues of plastic credentials make this decision one worth contemplating.

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The only publication dedicated to the use of campus cards, mobile credentials, identity and security technology in the education market. CampusIDNews – formerly CR80News – has served more than 6,500 subscribers for more than two decades.
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