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Ashland University moves from mag stripe to prox

Ashland University is swapping out students’ old magnetic stripe cards for new proximity cards. Citing rising security concerns, the university has also decided to replace existing card readers with prox readers to support the new credentials. The university had been planning the upgrade for over a year.

As reported by the Ashland Collegian, the university made the decision to issue prox cards because it considered the switch to be a step-up in security for the university. With help from its card vendor the school weighed its options, which included contactless smart cards. Despite 13.56 mHz contactless smart cards offering better protection than prox cards, the higher cost of contactless ultimately played a role in Ashland choosing prox.

Ashland also needed to consider the price of readers and issuance hardware necessary to deliver the new credentials. “We chose the middle-of-the-road option,” says Marty Penwell, auxiliary services business manager at Ashland University.

The university is phasing in the new hardware over time as not all readers could be updated within the same calendar year due to high costs. One of the buildings yet to outfitted for the new prox credentials is the university’s dining hall, where magnetic stripe readers will not be replaced until next year.

The university is currently installing the new readers on doors across campus, aiming for all installations to be completed by December. The new prox cards meanwhile also feature a magnetic stripe and will still work on the campus’ existing card readers that are yet to be replaced.

As part of the decision to issue a new credential Ashland was tasked with recarding its campus community — a primary concern for campus auxiliary services. “That was the biggest thing, to make sure everyone had their cards,” says Penwell. “Since our card office is located right by the dining hall, students can pick up their new cards while they’re on their way to get food.”

To ensure that students get their new EagleCards in a timely and organized manner, each campus dorm has an assigned week where students are to report to the card office to receive their new card. The new prox cards will be provided free of charge.

Ashland University fraternities are also going to benefit from the switch in credential. To better protect the students that are living in these buildings, keys and locks in fraternity housing will also be replaced with new proximity readers and cards.

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