A growing number of university food service operations are turning to reusable takeout containers in dining halls to cut waste. The trend's latest participant is Oregon State with its new "Eco2Go" program.
Per a report from the Daily Barometer, Oregon State's Housing and Dining Services introduced the new reusable containers to reduce waste from dining halls by replacing all paper to-go containers with bright orange reusable plastic boxes. Campus restaurants run by Housing and Dining Services will provide the reusable to-go containers in each of the campus' dining centers. Eco2go has thus far received positive feedback since the program's launch this semester.
The Eco2Go boxes are given out when guests at university dining halls request the to-go option. the reusable containers can then be returned by students to any of the other campus dining halls, residence halls or any of the five other specified locations on Oregon State's campus.
This semester marked a bit of a revamp for the program, which was previously a buy-in program with a discount incentive. The university has a dedicated Eco2Go webpage detailing all the pertinent info about the program as well as where students can return their containers.
University officials hope that by making the reusable boxes the only to-go option students will inspire their peers to participate in the program, as well. The reusable containers have replaced the some 600,000 disposable paper boxes typically purchased by Oregon State University Housing and Dining Services.
“There is a huge return rate,"says Chris Anderson, head of the Eco2Go program and assistant manager of Marketplace West, one of Oregon State's dining centers. "I’ve even heard stories about students finding them around campus and working together to bring them back to a return area.”
Future plans involve involving more students by sending out emails to encourage suggestions of where to install future drop boxes, as well as feedback on how the program can be improved.
While the reusable nature of the containers may be a concern fro some, the cleaning of the boxes is the top priority. Containers are collected from deposit stations throughout the week, sanitized and separated on racks to dry before being used again.
The Eco2go program will continue growing the number of reusable containers with another shipment to be distributed later this year.
As the bell rings each morning at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in St. Louis, a camera takes a picture of every face that passes through the front and back entrance.
The private, all-male school of 350 students is located in a high-crime area on the city’s south side, and school administrators had been looking for an extra layer of security to complement the regular video monitoring system. It was then that they learned about facial recognition. In early 2015, Blue Line Security Solutions, a St. Louis business operated by former law enforcers, installed its biometric solution at the campus.
Every student, staffer and school volunteer was photographed and enrolled into the system. Even police and other first responders in the neighborhood have been enrolled for quick access to school facilities.
“They walk through the outer door and they enter a vestibule, and inside the vestibule is the camera,” says St. Mary’s President Michael England. “It takes a picture of the face, and if it is recognized in the system, a light goes on signifying that the door has been unlocked and the person is able to enter.” If unrecognized, the door does not open and the individual must be buzzed into the school by a greeter or receptionist.
[pullquote]Students enter a vestibule where a camera takes a picture of the face, checks it against the enrolled biometric templates and makes an access decision[/pullquote]
Everyone who enters and leaves the building is videotaped, and the system is programmed to scan this video in real-time searching for faces. When it finds a face, it uses facial recognition technology to check the encountered face against the database of enrolled faces. If a match is found, the system can let approved users enter or notify administrators and police if a known troublemaker shows up.
England reports close to 100% accuracy enabling entry for enrolled individuals. But he knows it’s tough to completely eliminate a threat when kids are pouring into the school at the same time.
“Once that door is open, they’re holding it for each other and coming in,” he says. “We always say if somebody really wants to get into the school, they probably can find a way. But facial recognition gives us one more level of security and enables us to react proactively if we have problems.”
England sees the technology’s potential in other applications, such as in the school store or cafeteria as way for students to pay. “There’s also been talk about using it as a way for people to enter the campus via car in certain parking lots,” England says. “I think everybody sees the added value that it has brought. It really hasn’t changed anything or made things more difficult. It just helps us to keep our community safe.”
The all-inclusive price tag for the solution at St. Mary’s is $15,000. Administrators liked the cost, especially with the Archdiocese of St. Louis expected to help pay for it through safety grants.
While the St. Mary’s school community seems to have adjusted easily to the new biometrics system, not everyone is eager to take the plunge.
“All of us walk through security cameras everywhere we go now,” says Joseph Spiess, senior partner at Blue Line Security Solutions. “But the stigma on facial recognition comes from companies that have indiscriminately placed people in their systems without cause or justification. Some have shared, transferred or even sold the facial information that they captured.”
Blue Line says its system is designed specifically for security or access control. The information collected remains in the client’s database and is never shared.
“We simply provide a security camera that’s trained by software to look for specific threats and make notifications,” Spiess says. “At no time do we hit big databases like some are doing. We’re not hitting Facebook or going into other big sources of stored photos to randomly target or market to people.”
The company sees facial recognition as one of the most effective forms of security in the corporate world. Instead of using cards or fobs, employees can glance at the camera while they’re walking to their destination – and the results are virtually instantaneous.
At St. Mary’s, the camera recognizes approved visitors and immediately sends an electrical signal to the door’s access control device to enable entry. But the technology can also be used to identify threats or single out bad actors for security personnel to monitor.
Blue Line and its users report a high accuracy rate. The company says it benchmarked the system at St. Mary’s for 30 days and found it to be more than 99% accurate. When it didn’t work, bad and poorly lit photos were typically to blame.
“The higher quality digital photo you have, the better success rate in matching,” Spiess says.
Other company clients include St. Louis circuit courts and the federal government. “We have a smaller corporation that’s using it for a workplace violence prevention strategy,” Spiess says.
He says the uses for facial recognition range from securing domestic violence shelters to detecting terrorist threats at the airport. “Whether it is retail trying to reduce theft or entities in potentially violent environments like courthouses or schools, it really has to be looked at as a process to keep them safer,” concludes Spiess.
Ithaca College is set to be the latest university to launch the GET mobile ordering app from CBORD, enabling students and faculty to preorder and prepay for food at Sodexo establishments on campus.
Per The Ithacan, GET Mobile will be available for students via mobile device and GET's online portal. The GET platform is CBORD's all-encompassing campus card system, which includes mobile food ordering capabilities among other services. Mobile ordering via GET is expected to be available January 2016 at Ithaca in time for the spring semester.
Jeff Scott, general manager for Sodexo at Ithaca College, says off-campus mobile ordering is popular among students, and Sodexo wants to offer a similar platform for on-campus dining. Initially, mobile ordering will be limited to three locations on campus: SubConnection, and two Sandella’s Cafe locations.
Mobile ordering could be a particularly good fit for one of the Sandella’s locations which has an existing window that was previously used for pickup and takeout orders. Though unused at the moment, the addition of GET mobile ordering will mean the window can be reopened for its original purpose when the service starts next semester.
CBORD also provides the transaction system at Ithaca, so the framework was already in place for mobile ordering via GET to be implemented.
Sodexo officials say the GET app will enable users to pay for food either via credit/debit cards or Ithaca's student card ID Express and Bonus Bucks. CBORD's GetFunds -- another feature of the GET platform -- will also be included at Ithaca, enabling students to check their balances and instantly replenish funds to their ID Express and Bonus Bucks accounts.
GET Mobile will be piloted at the three locations, but there are plans to expand its reach over time. In the more distant future Sodexo is considering a delivery option as well, though such an option would initially be limited to select areas.
Often the subject of privacy concerns, biometrics is enjoying growing acceptance in higher ed, in part, because students are increasingly inundated and accustomed with the technology as a standard feature on mobile devices. This trend has been reflected at Georgia Southern since last year when iris biometrics were implemented at campus dining halls as part of an opt-in program to increase throughput at the door.
The adoption rate for Georgia Southern's iris system at campus dining halls has been nothing short of remarkable. "Since August 2013 we’ve seen more people opt to use the iris camera than to use their card to enter the dining facilities,” says Richard Wynn, director of the Eagle Card Office at Georgia Southern University.
The program has enjoyed so much success that the university has now expanded the use of iris biometrics to include access to its campus recreation center.
In partnership with the Eagle Card Program, the university’s Recreation Activity Center (RAC) now offers students the option of iris photo recognition for quick, hygienic, hands-free entry into the facility. Iris technology will be the third in a series of entry-methods that are part of RecTrac, the center’s entry system. Students may alternatively present their Eagle Card at the front desk or use the fingerprint scanning technology to enter the facility.
Previously, Georgia Southern’s Campus Recreation used a fingerprint biometric for entry, but that method proved to be problematic. With the success of the iris camera technology in the residential dining facilities, Campus Recreation officials contacted Wynn about extending the iris service to their location and enabling students to continue to use a form of biometric entry that they were already comfortable with. As Wynn explains, it was mostly an ease of service situation.
Students can enroll for the IRIS Camera System at the rec center or at Georgia Southern’s Eagle Card Center. Of the university’s total enrollment of 20,500, some 15,000 students have already enrolled in the IRIS program and in doing so are able to use the system at the rec center and two dining commons on Georgia Southern’s campus.
“The RAC’s incorporation of this technology is a perfect example of how using this system across campus can provide secure, accurate and seamless access for our entire Georgia Southern community,” says Richard Wynn, director of the Eagle Card Program. “The two-million entries in our dining facilities over the past two years are proof that the expansion of iris entry will be successful in other parts of campus.”
“Since unveiling iris on campus, an average of more than 3,400 freshmen have enrolled in the program each year,” adds Wynn. “And with the expansion to the RAC, even more upperclassmen have enrolled.”
The IRIS Camera System uses a biometric device that digitizes a photograph of the user’s eyes and creates a template. This software then stores the template of the iris pattern (D-TIP). When a user accesses the IRIS Camera System, the D-TIP is compared to the recognition station to allow access.
Georgia Southern Informational Technology (IT) Services is currently exploring additional use cases for iris access in other areas of campus, including an art building. “As they review and monitor the implementation in the RAC, they'll further explore its application elsewhere,” says Wynn.
Re-carding a campus and its entire population is a dreaded prospect for any campus card office. It’s a massive project that can be time consuming, tedious and costly.
Why then would an institution undertake a campus-wide re-carding or mass reissuance? Typical reasons for a campus re-carding include:
Whatever the reason, the decision to re-issue credentials carries a number of mission-critical considerations.
Some card offices choose to go it alone, but others look outside the institution for assistance. If university staff members are not prepared to shoulder the full weight of the re-carding project and conduct the work in house, there are vendors ready and willing to aid in the process. Campus card system providers typically offer re-carding assistance as do many ID service providers and resellers.
Assisting with re-carding is part of the service that Heartland Campus Solutions provides to its university clients. Re-carding services can range from providing necessary equipment and planning for an issuance event to the offsite printing of the cards themselves.
Online photo submission expedites re-carding
Online photo submission has proven to be a useful tool for the normal carding process, and it seems likely to be a huge time saver in a mass issuance scenario as well.
“The time spent taking pictures when students are in line can be reduced tremendously,” says Fred Emery, director of OneCard sales at Heartland Campus Solutions. “For an initial carding event or a re-carding where new photos must be taken, online photo upload can provide a more efficient operation.”
Heartland has a number of universities using the MyPhoto solution for online photo submission. “I have heard a lot of positive comments with one campus receiving about 90% of their photos through online submission,” Emery says.
“We also work with third-party vendors to assist in printing the cards,” says Fred Emery, director of OneCard sales at Heartland Campus Solutions. “We assess the needs of the project and depending upon the volume, we recommend options to best achieve the goal.”
Options can include renting additional printers to enable campus staff to produce the cards directly onsite, producing the cards offsite at Heartland facilities or identifying a third-party partner to meet specific needs, explains Emery.
Blackboard Transact also offers re-carding services for its university partners. “Through our Campus Card Services group, we play an active consultative role to help a client think through decisions related to card stock and re-carding,” says Dan Gretz, senior director of product marketing at Blackboard Transact. “We offer complete end-to-end services, from card procurement all the way through to issuance, for any institution and any card type.”
When factoring in all the costs associated with a campus re-carding, outsourcing the project to an off-site vendor can often save a university time and money, Gretz says. Most universities have limited printer capacity that can make re-carding a lengthy process, but a vendor will have equipment to process the job rapidly.
“Re-cardings often take place when campus staff have a number of competing mission-critical initiatives, so outsourcing also enables campus personnel to focus on other projects,” says Gretz.
There are a number of choices that must be made before embarking on a re-carding project. The initial decision typically is whether to produce cards via pre-issuance or in-person issuance. Each model is ideal for certain situations, and either can meet typical campus needs, explains Mark Degan, corporate marketing manager at ColorID.
If it’s a reissuance situation, the existing card and photo database can be used to pre-issue or pre-print new cards for the existing campus population. If it’s a first time issuance, however, photos may not exist so this could lead a campus to an in-person or instant issuance process. Still, many campuses choose in-person issuance even if they have an existing photo database, so it really comes down to individual choice.
“We generally see universities do a slow rollout when it comes to re-carding, parceling things out by class, faculty, staff and so on,” says Degan. “There are reasons to for full-scale rollouts, though, particularly if the university is migrating card technologies. In that scenario, a university may opt to rip the Band-Aid off right away. The cost is relatively similar for both approaches.”
The listing carries an application deadline of November 13 and is open to nominations and applications alike. Per the listing, the Associate Dean will oversee a "complex, $40 million budget and a professional staff of 32, and will have the opportunity to implement both programmatic and physical growth on Hopkins’ large, urban campus."
The Associate Dean reports to the Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Student Life, the Associate Dean serves as a key member of the Office of the Dean of Students’ leadership team as well as a collaborative partner to other entities both across campus and in the surrounding communities of Charles Village and Hampden.
The successful Associate Dean of Housing, Dining, Residential Life & Conference Services will be a "forward-thinking, fiscally responsible, student affairs professional who has demonstrated increasing leadership and management experience." Per the listing, a master’s degree is required. The university is accepting nominations, applications and queries electronically at [email protected].
The Director of Technology at Louisiana State University leads and manages Auxiliary Services (AS) technology systems. Oversight includes system architecture, business application integration, campus card systems for five LSU campuses, and a POS system handling over $30 million in transactions.
A strong background in system administration, software development and strong business acumen are desired. The Director of Technology falls under the direction of the Assistant Vice President of Auxiliary Services, and would plan in the innovation and development of new services offered by auxiliary services to the institutions it supports.
Among the numerous responsibilities listed, the Director of Technology will partially oversee the Tiger Card Office by supervising the assistant manager and provide oversight for management of the operations of the campus one-card program. This includes:
Suggested qualifications for the Director of Technology include a bachelor's degree and seven years of progressive experience in technology, as well as three years of supervisory experience. Experience in Windows Server family operating systems.
Reusable takeout containers have been hitting a number of campuses in the last year, cutting down on both food and disposable container waste. Now, Pennsylvania's Misericordia University is extending the idea of disposable containers to include reusable cups as part of a sustainability initiative with Metz Culinary Management -- the university's food service provider.
Per a report from The Highlander, Metz handed out reusable cups to residential students this fall to use in lieu of the disposable cups the university had used for years. Students received their free, reusable cups during the extended take-out hours of the dining hall as a part of Metz's T.A.S.T.E (Taking Action for a Sustainable Tomorrow Everywhere) Initiative.
At present, the sups are being exclusively used to take drinks out of the dining hall during extending dining hours when students are allowed take-out. The cups are made primarily from recycled materials to reflect the program’s values and feature a coffee mug-like design and the university’s blue and gold colors and university branding.
The initiative at Misericordia was inspired by another Metz campus client, neighboring Lebanon Valley College, which has been using reusable cups in their dining halls.
Lebanon Valley College students receive a free take out reusable cup for the school year, which are distributed by dining services. Lebanon students may bring the cups into the dining hall for take-out beverages with all meal purchases. In the event of lost or stolen cups, replacements can be purchased for $5.
At Misericordia, campus officials estimate losing 12 cases of the old disposable to-go cups each semester. To help put that in perspective, Misericordia currently enrolls a total of just over 3,100 students. In addition to cutting waste, the new reusable mugs are also expected to save the university an estimated $845 per semester. The cost of the cups was split evenly between Metz and Misericordia's Student Activities department.
Metz plans to trial the new to-go cups at Misericordia and gauge student adoption before expanding its sustainability initiative. Metz also hopes to reduce food waste at the university with a new “Sample It” program, wherein workers will provide recyclable plastic cups and a mini plastic spoon for students to sample food before filling their plate.
The University of Oklahoma's Sooner ID Card is set for some aesthetic changes next year -- albeit on the back of the card -- with the addition of local and campus resource phone numbers.
Per a report from The Oklahoma Daily, the university's student government association is behind the research and promotion of the new initiative that would see five student resource numbers printed on the backs of all new IDs. The changes are set to take effect next semester for the 2016 Sooner Card.
Among the phone numbers to be printed on the new cards will be the Oklahoma University Police Department's non-emergency number, a SafeWalk number, university health services, university counseling services and 911.
The reasoning behind printing the resource numbers is so that students -- in particular freshman, transfer and international students -- will be more informed of both local and campus resources available to them. Even 911 is a resource that international students may not be aware of.
The initiative will not alter the design on the front of the card, though completely new card stock will need to be ordered for next semester. Printing the resource numbers on card backs does, however, coincide with another, unrelated design change. New card stock was already being ordered as a 125th anniversary logo currently on the front of the Sooner Card will be discontinued.
Changes to the Sooner Card will appear next semester upon the arrival of the new card stock. Students have the option to get a new Sooner Card for $20, but the student government association and university officials are contemplating a discounted rate for students who get the newly redesigned card.
If some university administrators had their druthers, the only payments accepted on campus would be from the campus card or cash. At the other end of the spectrum, others ask why the campus card program is ‘competing with the financial industry,’ offering accounts, holding funds and processing payments. They suggest ditching campus card payments altogether in favor of ‘good old Visa and MasterCard.’
But in the modern world, neither extreme position has proven practical. Most campuses find it necessary to accept a mix of payment options, including open-loop credit and debit cards.
While open-loop payments might have once only been accepted at the bookstore for major purchases, they are now accepted at an increasing number of locations around campus, from dining halls to vending machines.
The trend in overall student spending – across all on and off campus venues – is certainly continuing toward open-loop payment cards. Student Monitor’s spring 2015 survey shows that 52% of spending was done with debit and credit cards and 40% with cash. Campus cards, meanwhile, were only responsible for 4% of payments.
The original idea behind the multi-function campus card was about keeping money on campus, says Bill Norwood, chief architect at Heartland Payment Systems. That along with avoiding costly interchange and processing fees – possibly as much as 3% – would mean the campus would take in, and hold on to, more money.
But then a societal shift occurred derailing some of these plans. “The younger generation started arriving on campus with payment cards,” Norwood says. “Parents wanted kids to have a Visa or MasterCard to pay for books and maybe accrue points for their loyalty program.”
To keep pace, institutions allowed open loop to migrate from the bookstore to other areas across campus. But it has not come without costs and complexities.
“Open loop creates additional costs, paying processor fees that universities don’t have with closed loop,” says Kent Pawlak, director of product strategy at BlackboardﾊTransact. “You have to balance the convenience with the costs to the institution.”
[pullquote]Campuses were all about mitigating fees from payment cards, but they have started embracing open-loop payments and realize they can’t turn them away[/pullquote]
The transactions are safer for the student and the consumer, but not necessarily for the university. When a fraudulent purchase takes place, it’s typically the merchant – in this case the university – who has to take the financial hit. “With closed loop campus card payments, you have a defined community and there’s less risk, so instances of fraud are rare,” says Pawlak.
Loyalty programs from credit cards are also impacting payment choices. For some students – and their parents – it’s all about the miles. “People don’t carry cash and they want the loyalty points,” says John Diaz, vice president of business development at Sequoia Retail Systems.
Campuses were all about mitigating fees from payment cards but that’s changed, Diaz explains. “Our customers have started embracing open-loop payments and realize they can’t turn them away,” he says.
Campuses were all about mitigating fees from payment cards, but they have started embracing open-loop payments and realize they can’t turn them away
Diaz credits the evolution in campus food services as a catalyst for the change. “The food service providers on campus have moved from managing a dining hall to having a ton of branded concepts on campus,” he says.
The stalwart all-you-can-eat options still exist, but more common are food courts complete with Starbucks, Einstein’s Bagels and Chick-fil-A. These large-scale chains accept the campus card but insist on regular payments as well, says Brian Hendrix, product manager at Sequoia Retail Systems. They cater not only to the campus population but also to members of the community who don’t have campus IDs.
Whether it's a lack of funds or a depletion of meal swipes, students can find themselves in need of a meal from time to time. Such is the case at Columbia University where a coalition of students and university organizations have developed a new meal sharing system.
Working as a meal swipe food bank of sorts, Columbia's Emergency Meal Fund enables students with leftover meal swipes to donate up to six meals each semester to a fellow student in need of a swipe. Likewise, students in need of meals may receive up to six meal vouchers from peers each semester, no questions asked.
Per a report from the Columbia Spectator, a combined effort between Columbia’s First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP), senior administrators and students has developed the Emergency Meal Fund and a new app called Swipes. Using their meal swipes at any of three, buffet-style dining halls on campus, some Columbia students have come up a little short at times and in need of a meal swipe. Meal plans available to Columbia students offer either two, four or six guest meal swipes per semester.
Accompanying the initiative is a student-developed called Swipes. Released this September, the app is designed to match students in need of a meal swipe with those willing to donate one. The students behind the app were inspired by a Columbia University Meal Share Facebook group, which was created by FLIP to help students in need of meals to find free food on campus or connect with students with extra swipes.
The app works like this: Anyone with a Columbia.edu email address can sign up for the service either as a “Swiper” or a “Receiver.” When a Receiver needs a meal swipe, they enter the time they’d like to eat and the dining hall they want to attend. A notification is then sent out to all Swipers currently in the designated dining hall to obtain a match. If no Swipers are available in the hall, a broader notification is sent out to Swipers available across campus.
When a Swiper and a Receiver match, they receive a photo of one other, as well as optional notes that the Receiver might have to include to assist in meeting up. The Swiper and Receiver then meet at the dining hall entrance to conduct the meal transaction.
Since the program's inception, there have been 18 requests to receive a meal swipe, with student Swipers donating 580 meal swipes in total.