A version of this story appeared in the Nov. 3 issue of Fourth Estate.
The Mason Card Office will start issuing new IDs to students, faculty and staff starting next semester.
Executive Director of Campus Retail Operations Mark Kraner says this project has been in the planning stages for the past three years.
“It’s been a plan for the last three years, we migrate upward and to be able to last 5-7 years because every 5-7 years we have to re-card,” Kraner said. “It’s natural because technology gets better and that’s what we’re trying to stay with.”
The Mason Card Office will allow the class of 2019 to process their cards online and they can upload their own photo, with guidelines. For example, the person’s face needs to be showing and hats are not allowed. Incoming freshmen will have their IDs ready to be picked up at orientation in the spring. Kraner said this helps eliminate the long lines at orientation.
According to Kraner, by the end of this transition about 45,000-50,000 cards will be changed. This includes full and part-time students, faculty and staff. All of the cards will be the same color and will designate whether they are student, faculty, or staff.
The IDs will be laminated and everything except for the person’s photo will be pre-printed.
“The photos start to fade away and you start wearing through where you swipe,” Kraner said. “So we’re trying to get that so it’s better.”
However, like the photographs, the bar code currently on the front of Mason ID cards will be not pre-printed as it was before. According to Kraner, this barcode allows Mason students to check out library books at Mason campuses, in libraries in the Northern Virginia area and in some libraries at universities in Washington, D.C., such as at George Washington University.
“So few do it, if you need it you can go to the library and have them put one on the back of the card,” Kraner said. “Instead of pre-printing it because until you need it you’re not in any system, it’s just a number. So we’re generating all these numbers to go nowhere.”
This capability does not seem to be widely accessed by students. Junior David Du said he found out about this feature recently, but does not plan to use it.
“Yes I did [know]. Though I only found out this semester from my English 302 professor,” Du said.
The card’s exterior design also changed. Kraner said that the Johnson Center was one of six choices for the new campus image on the ID. The goal was to have the card image fit the university’s first brand profile and represent a new image of the university
Kraner said new technology is added to the card to heighten security and that the campus police department is already using it to enter their building located at the Fairfax campus. One new feature is a contact-less chip, also called a proximity chip. This will eliminate the need to swipe a card to enter buildings and also allow for Mason to work with Metro, if the opportunity arises.
Another new piece of technology is a memory chip. Information necessary to enter certain buildings will be stored in here. The card will also have dual-factor identification, this means the owner will have to swipe and put in a pin to enter a building. However, these features will not be active next semester.
“We need to be able to make it that it’s dual because right now you hear about all the hacking people are doing,” Kraner said. “It can be stored and it’s hard to break into this chip, it’s encrypted.”
If a current card is faded, cracked or broken, then the Card Office will replace the card free of charge, according to Kraner. If not, than a replacement for the new card will cost $20. Also, he warns that students may not punch holes into these IDs because it will ruin the technology embedded into them.
“Again, we’re preparing for the future,” Kraner said. “It’s the next class of cards. There are some things that we’ll get into fairly quick, some are future so that we have some growth.”
Photo Credit: Amy Podraza