A secure center

The Academic and Student Recreation Center presents employees with many challenges, but the Member Services staff is working to assure that identity theft and fraud aren’t among them.

The Academic and Student Recreation Center presents employees with many challenges, but the Member Services staff is working to assure that identity theft and fraud aren’t among them.

A.J. Burmeister, student coordinator of Member Services, said there was an issue with non-members attempting to use IDs from students to sneak into the rec center. All students and faculty are considered ASRC members, and Burmeister said the policy of ID confiscation as a result of attempting to sneak in isn’t meant to be unfair, but rather to protect a student whose ID is being misused.

“We’re a gateway, a central point that guards who goes in and out of the rec center and when we catch someone trying to sneak in, I know it doesn’t seem like it when we confiscate the ID but we’re actually helping that student whose ID it is,” Burmeister said. “Our policy is a direct result of the instructions on the back of every student ID card.”

The back of Portland State ID cards say a student is responsible for all transactions made with the card until a theft or loss is reported. Burmeister said the Campus Rec confiscation policy reflects university policies that exist to protect students from someone else trying to access funds linked to their student account, or trying to use the ID card to gain access to a facility on campus with secure entry tied to the card (such as a resident hall).

Burmeister said there are about 20 total people on the Member Services staff that tend to the front desk and that two people usually work during peak hours from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., with one attendant during slower hours—the rec center is open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. He said front desk attendants are trained to check the photo carefully and ask security questions based on information linked to the card if they are doubtful of the person’s identity.

Campus Rec Director Alex Accetta estimates that about three dozen IDs have been confiscated since they began tracking it a few months ago. He said at one point near the opening of the rec center, they were confiscating up to three or four each day.

“When we first opened, we had some thefts, had some uncomfortable situations going on in the rec center, and we believe it’s our job to control the risk of that,” Accetta said. “You want to believe everybody who comes in, but there are 200 people a day using the rec center and not everybody is going to be who they say they are. Since cracking down, theft dropped dramatically and there’ve been fewer incidents in the building.”

Accetta said Member Services has not had to involve the Campus Public Safety Office yet, but that they are aware of the situation. He said desk attendants are trained to be polite but firm when confiscating an ID, but that some people whose IDs are confiscated “tend to express their emotions.”

Linh Tran, who works the desk and has had to confiscate IDs, said she is usually able to confiscate the cards without incident. She said most attempted frauds end with the perpetrator simply walking away, but that some of the attempted frauds result in a scene.

“Most people just get scared and walk away if they’re busted, but we’ve had some really frustrated reactions to having their ID taken away,” Tran said.

“If someone’s going to get that upset over having their friend’s ID confiscated, they probably shouldn’t have tried to sneak in using someone else’s card in the first place,” Burmeister said. “It’s as simple as knowing that the services are for paid memberships and students that pay a fee.” 

Stacey Conger, senior, said she uses the facility occasionally and that she appreciates the policy being enforced.

“People leave their personal items, from iPhones to jewelry to class materials, in lockers at the rec center and it’s good to know that a system exists to ensure that someone’s things aren’t being stolen while they work out,” Conger said. “I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to get done exercising only to find that your car keys and phone were missing and that you were suddenly stranded in the rec center.”