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University proposes lanyards, card holders for visual ID

A new identification system at Western University in London, Ontario is providing university branded lanyards and hard plastic Western ONECard holders to every main campus student, employee, and campus visitor.

According to a Global News report, the lanyard and card holders are for visual identification only, with no connection to vaccination status or other factors, and are optional.

“We wanted to create a visual way to help identify who is on our campus at any given time, including visitors to campus,” said Sarah Prichard, acting provost at Western University, in a statement to Global News.

Joining the lanyard initiative will be a new visitor management system beginning in January 2022. Similar to the ID card initiative, visitors will register through an online portal and be provided with black “Campus Visitor” lanyards and large visitor identification badges to be worn while on campus.

“We know anything new like this will take some time to take hold,” said Prichard. “We’re strongly encouraging everyone to pick up their lanyards and wear them. The more people that wear them, the stronger the program.”

The university says it plans to continue the system as part of its ongoing safety program. Since the start of the lanyard initiative on November 8, however, there have been mixed reviews from students and a faculty union.

Criticism from the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) included concerns over a lack of rationale for the system, the potential security risk posed by having a name, face and ONECard identification number on display when wearing the lanyards in public, and a risk to the town-and-gown relationship by having campus visitors wear the lanyards.

The university maintains that the visual ID measures are intended to create a convenient, secure and accessible way to hold campus credentials. The university also says that hundreds of Western ONECards are lost each year, with 1,600 cards replaced in 2020 alone.

Western ONECards display a student’s full name, student number and a photo, with similar information found on employee versions of the cards.

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