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Penn State set to issue Greek IDs to fraternity and sorority members

by Lauren Lowrey, Contributing Editor

College and university ID card programs are used to secure access to dorms and buildings, as banking vehicles for students … even to enable discounts at the local movie theatre. Imagine if the same program was made available for students in fraternities and sororities. The Office of Greek Life at Pennsylvania State University is working with the campus card office to make this a reality for Greek students for Fall 2005.

Pennsylvania State University has a large Greek community with 95 national and local chapters represented. The Greek ID card program is planned to help monitor the almost 5,000 Greek students. The need for such a system catered specifically to Greeks came from the desire to control attendance at all-Greek events.

The current event attendance system is paper-based with the named organization at the top of each page and numbered lines for attendee’s signatures. Though simplistic, the method inaccurate and non-electronic – and thus not capable of generating reports. An independent student could sign in under the name of another member student if checking the ID is not required. And there is virtually no means to discern anything relevant from the collected lists. This problem is what the Office of Greek Life and its four main chapter councils are trying to combat.

With the new Greek IDs, fraternity and sorority members will not only be identified as Penn State students but also as members of their respective chapters. The plan for the cards is to retain the Penn State colors, yet have information pertinent to Greek students: name, affiliation, birth date, initiation date, and expected graduation date.

The current plan is to have the PSU campus card office produce the IDs for the Office of Greek Life. A fee of $2.30 per card is anticipated from the card office with the cost to be incurred by each chapter member who will pay an extra $3 in dues. Once a new member is initiated into the organization, he or she will receive the GreekID with their name, affiliation, etc. However, the Greek Life Office and the Card Office have not decided upon a method for cancelling a card when a member drops from the organization without graduating.

Jared Brown, the Assistant Director for Greek Life at Penn State, said that until they decide to utilize the magnetic stripe (or other technology), they will “provide a paper list of all active card holders” to double-check that the person who is on the card is still an active member of the Greek organization. The cards, for now, will serve as a “flash badge” until the begin using hand-held card readers.

This Greek ID venture may lay the groundwork for more applications at PSU and on campuses around the country. The presence of a card with a magnetic stripe, barcode, or contactless chip could open up new possibilities for all of users. This card could be the first step towards card readers at fraternity and sorority parking lot entrances, buildings, and meeting locations. It could serve as an attendance tracking tool enabling members to manually swipe their card before the meeting began. And it could develop into a Greek-only discount card at local merchants.

As more accountability and security is required of and desired by campus organizations including fraternities and sororities, the opportunities for the utilization of card technology increases. And the campus card offices are in a unique position to understand both the needs of the campus organizations and the capabilities of advanced ID technology. We will keep an eye on the PSU Greek ID program as it continues to develop.

Additional resources:

To visit the PSU campus card office on the web, click here.

To read more about Penn State Greek Life, click here.

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