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TCU ditches metal keys for card access in dorms

Andrew Hudson   ||   Oct 02, 2014  ||   

Universities nationwide have been routinely phasing out metal keys for door access for quite some time now, and Texas Christian is the latest university to join the trend.

Metal keys have become rather obsolete on campus, as student ID cards carry a plethora of functions. Moreover, with a switch of door readers, the use of ID cards for access to dorm rooms just makes sense.

“When you look at the industry and you look at housing that is being built all around the country, card access for doors is starting to become much more normative,” says Craig Allen, director of housing and residence life at Texas Christian.

In an interview with TCU360, Allen says that the transition at TCU is happening for a number of reasons, the first of which is that card access to dorm rooms is more cost effective for both students and the university.

Sheri Milhollin, the manager of Texas Christian’s ID Card Center, is working at the heart of the transition.

“When a key to a resident hall gets lost you usually have to replace just that one key. Now if a key belonging to a manager of a building gets lost then the entire building has to be rekeyed,” Milhollin said. “Also for students if you lose your room key it is $50 to replace but if you lose your ID card it’s only $20.”

According to university officials, security has also played a role in the switch from keys to cards.

“The ID center has the ability to immediately shut off a card as soon as a student knows that it has gone missing,” says Allen. “This is much more effective than a traditional key that could take a considerable amount of time to get the locks rekeyed.”

Universities around the world have come to realize the efficiencies of ID cards for access control and the phasing out of metal keys – in part because it’s one less thing for students to keep track of.

“If you think about the fact that this card is much more than just a key, the card works like a credit card in the bookstore and in the vending machines and as a debit card at on campus restaurants,” says Milhollin. “The hope is that as soon as someone figures out their card is missing they go online and turn the card off.”

The use of ID keycards is already in place for some of TCU’s newer residence halls, but officials say that as of now, there are no plans to go back and retrofit the older dorms.

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