Southern plans for one-card system

Parker Willis

As Missouri Southern continues to advance on several fronts to catch up with competing universities, new technologies are being introduced to improve campus life.Most recently Southern has decided to go to a one-card system to make things more convenient for students.”This is a baseline expectation that you would find on a university campus,” said Jeff Gibson, director of budgeting and operations. “We are a bit behind the curve on getting it in place. But the neat thing is we’re going to plug in to the technology at a level that will serve us for years into the future.”The one-card system is a transaction system that uses student IDs to do several different things. The first would be a money system in which students would apply money to the card, much like with Lionbucks, and then use it in places like the Lion’s Den and even at vending machines.Darren Fullerton, director of student life, said the push is to transition into a cashless campus, so students no longer have to worry about if they have correct change for the vending machines or if they brought enough money to eat lunch. There will also be a website where students parents could go to apply money to the card.Another function for the system is the privileges function. This would give students access to places on campus like the Biemdiek Student Recreation Center.The third function would be door access. Originally there will be 10 to 15 doors in the BSRC that would be used.Fullerton said the University is looking into using the system to access the residence halls in the future.”Basically the cards would work just like they do at a hotel,” Fullerton said.He also said that universities that have gone to an access card system for their residence halls have seen a significant decrease in campus theft.Currently, the University is waiting for the final bids from two different vendors.”There’s a lot of activity going on with it right now,” Gibson said. “But it’s kind of below the surface. Once we get a vendor announced there will be a whole lot more public discussion about an implementation timeline.”Gibson said the one-card system probably won’t be ready when the bottom floor of the BSRC is finished, which is where the office for the system will be, because there is so much equipment involved in the process.”We need a staging area to get it all laid out and ready,” Gibson said. The office will have two cameras and a new ID system in it and will require a ‘re-carding’ event for the entire student body. However, Gibson said he is still not sure when that will be.”We’re trying to think about what would be the logical time that would be most convenient for students,” Gibson said. “I’d like to see us fully operational when we come back after the first of the year; that is the ultimate goal.”Gibson said he still isn’t sure what the total cost of the system will be.”It is a sizeable investment,” Gibson said. “There is going to be some upfront costs of getting the program up and going but we hope it levels out after a while.”The University is looking to some its partners for help with the cost. Pepsi will probably help with the purchase of the equipment to update the vending machines. Sodexo, who is currently in need of a new system for all of its points of sale on campus, will probably help with purchasing that new system. But Gibson said that since universities that have gone to this type of “contact-less” system have seen an increase in sales at its vending machines and food courts, it isn’t too much to ask.There has also been discussion about making students start paying for printing services in the library through the use of their cards. Gibson said the University has been paying between $60,000 and $80,000 every year on printing in the library.”That’s going to be tough for students because they’re not used to doing it,” Gibson said. “But it’s customary. It’s just new for us.”Gibson said that he is excited about the new system and the added convenience to students. When he went with a small group to Morehead State University, which has had a contact-less system for about a year now, he was impressed with the system.”I honestly feel like we can do what they have done as well and probably better,” Gibson said. “We don’t want to implement a technology that’s not tried and tested. And we’re comfortable with this one.”