Sunday, February 18, 2007

News: Dude Where's My newcard?

Security Calls for a "Fastlane Optical" Way to Pass

Elizabeth Arcuri

By Nadia Chaudhury

Instead of pulling out the old, oversized ID card to enter the school buildings, with New School's new "newcard," students and faculty will be able to waltz through the front doors without lifting a finger.

The catch? Soon, they will have to pass through a "Fastlane Optical Turnstile" set up at the front doors of every New School building.

The new security measure, proposed by New School President Bob Kerrey several years ago, is being implemented out of a general concern for security and is not due to any increase in theft, security officials at the New School said. Each turnstile, including installation, costs $35,000.

“It will be several months before they’re all there,” said Caroline Oyama, director of Communications at The New School.

Upon entering a New School building, students will pass through the turnstile. If the newcard is present anywhere on their bodies—in their bag, pocket, or wallet—the sensors will recognize the card and allow them to pass through. If the scanner cannot read the newcard, a bar will automatically drop in front of the students and they will have to sign in with the security guard.

“You’re not going to have to fumble, which is what drives everyone crazy,” Oyama said. “Being asked to show your card is hard on the guards, and people get very resistant when asked to do it.”

Jonathan Cruz, a security guard manning the front desk at 66 West 12th Street, said the goal is to “make sure everyone who comes into the buildings belongs here.”

The newcard was first introduced to the New School community in an announcement through my.newschool.edu on January 15th. The announcement was followed by several reminders in the Weekly Observer. An email was also sent to all GroupWise accounts on January 18th.

Despite this, many students and faculty were unaware of the new policy.

“I wasn’t sure if we had to have [the card] or if it wasn’t required,” said Lang sophomore Gleb Boundin.

Some students complained that they were chastised by security guards during the first week of school.

“Guards had been given instructions that they were supposed to accept all current forms of ID until they were told otherwise,” Oyama said. “It was certainly not intended to be that way.”

The newcard, similar to systems already in place in universities such as New York University and Baruch College, will work as both a pass and monetary card. Students, faculty, and staff will have access to all New School buildings, including dormitories. The card will also work for meal plans, laundry, and university libraries and will provide students with special discounts at local stores.

As an added bonus, the card will work on all vending machines within university property. Currently, however, students can only make purchases at New School cafeterias with the card. Money can be put onto the card through the Card Services office.

Parsons student Derek Kim designed the newcard and won $100 in a recent contest sponsored by The New School. The scanners are already in place at the 13th Street Residence Hall, 79th 5th Avenue, the Sheila Johnson Center at 13th Street and 5th Avenue, 66 5th Avenue, and 2 West 13th Street.

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