Beginning in late August and early September, new students who fail to attend an orientation session will receive a surprise in the mail: a student identification card without a picture. Student leaders are concerned about new students carrying their pictureless cards, which have a debit card feature called a OneAccount, saying it may compromise the privacy of students.
“Getting an ID card that has your student ID number on it but with no picture seems very dangerous,” said ASPSU President Erin Devaney. “That’s an access card to your information.”
The Connecticut-based company Higher One took over all financial aid disbursements Winter Term of 2004-2005 and remained a subject of hot debate throughout last year. A student government-run boycott came to a head last November when hundreds of students crowded President Bernstine’s office after a rally to demand the contract with Higher One be broken, saying that the university had no right to pass student information to a third party.
Those responsible for distributing the new cards say they are making an effort to collect as many pictures as possible at new student orientation sessions this summer.
“It’s not a current PSU ID card without a picture,” said Eben Saling, alternative transportation coordinator of the office responsible for overseeing the distribution of new cards. “It’s a PSU OneCard that is not a PSU identification. [Students] should have their picture on that card.”
Saling said that the cards could still be activated without a picture. Dee Wendler, director of business affairs, said that the cards could be used as an identification card when coupled with a driver’s license or other picture ID.
Putting a photo on the PSU OneCard can be done at any time and will cost $5, but student leaders are also concerned that students may neglect to have their photos taken because they must wait in long lines and are not provided with enough time during orientation sessions.
“Only a small number of people could get their picture taken for orientation because they only had an hour to stand in line,” said Devaney.
“There’s a lot of students who don’t get their IDs because the line is too long,” said Tony Rasmussen, the former ASPSU communications director who was an outspoken opponent of the Higher One card last year. He adds that this puts a damper on the administration’s promise last year that instituting the new ID card system would cut down on waiting in line. “All the perks are gone,” he said.
Devaney said that students were expected to have photos taken during lunch, while other activities such as a raffle were going on. “While all that’s going on, they also have the option to get their picture taken.”
“Certainly for some folks, getting a picture for their ID isn’t a priority for the day,” said Bill Ryder, assistant director of student orientation programs.
Devaney is also concerned about students who do not attend an orientation and may neglect or put off having their picture taken. Ryder said that 83 percent of new freshman and 68 percent of transfer students attended an orientation in 2004.
Saling said identification cards for newly registered students will be mailed out by early September. “Hopefully the majority of the cards will have pictures on them,” he said.
Saling stated that he does not foresee the photoless IDs as becoming a problem, adding that efforts to get photos have yielded 125 photographs per orientation session. “Students have made an effort to make sure they get their picture.”