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Editorial: The ID card’s role in campus change and evolution

Card offices are navigating a challenging era on campus. Cultural changes brought on, at least in part, by technology are creating a dichotomy of sorts when it comes to campus card services.

We seem to be going in two opposing directions simultaneously. As explored in this issue, there are card-supported services that may no longer need the plastic credential or may be primed to leapfrog it altogether. But at the same time, new and novel student services continue to emerge, opening new doors for the student ID.

This dichotomy leaves some fearing that we’re racing against obsolescence, while others see opportunity in expanding future roles.

In the cover story, we delve into campus laundry, how it’s priced, and crucially, how institutions are executing laundry transactions. Now commonplace, campus laundry operations are moving into the realm of mobile apps and web portals, morphing the age-old chore into something akin to a concierge service.

Some institutions are abandoning card-based laundry while others are leveraging Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities via the mobile device to circumvent the use of a traditional card.

Other services, however, are creating new inroads for the campus card as evidenced by our feature on reusable take-out containers. With institutions now throwing their support behind “green” initiatives to reduce waste and carbon footprints, solutions like those profiled at the University of California, Merced and Virginia Tech are prime candidates for campus card integration.

Enabling students to use their campus card for utilities that directly address hot-button issues – like supporting the environment – only further establishes the ID card as an integral tool for the modern student. Beyond the feel-good factor, cards are helping institutions to achieve real cost savings and improving the student experience.

Let’s be clear, there’s nothing wrong with new technologies and ways of doing things. But being on the “bleeding edge” doesn’t have to mean integrating the latest technologies. It could be as simple as progressively implementing new functions to the existing campus card.

As the campus continues to evolve it will be key for card offices to identify new opportunities for the campus card but also be willing to let go of services that no longer make sense.

To best serve our institutions in the future we will need balance, strategically choosing the campus card in some instances and boldly exploring alternatives in others.

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