Saturday, February 05, 2011

More First World Problems at the University

Those of us who are "lifers" at the university tend to have the old ID cards. They are simpler in design than the new ID cards. My card only has spot color: The university logos and campus name are in green (!!!), and my name, job title, and library bar code are in black. The new cards have four-color printing, with a background image of the administration math building. The new cards might also have a useful ID number printed on them. My personnel number and student ID number are not printed on the front of the card.

The important thing to know about my card, though, is that big black magnetic strip. (Not the skinny one that may have worked in some old photocopier system.) As I own a three-track card reader, I am confident in making the claim that the only information that is encoded on that magnetic strip in my social security number.

Another important feature of my ID card. My name is not spelled correctly. They have turned the E into another C.

Last week I got an email from the card office stating that they "began utilizing a new number to be encoded on Staff ID Cards." They named this number by its field name in their database system, the acUniqueID. They continue, "As part of our migration to this number, the ID Office must now re-issue cards with outdated encoding. Your ID Card needs to be re-issued."

What I take from this email is that they either can't or won't reprogram the stripes to have this database number instead of the social security number. Perhaps some of the important numbers that I need when filling out forms (like my student ID number and my personnel number) will actually be printed on the new card. I am somewhat tempted to buy a stripe writer and find out my acUniqueID and write it on my stripe to see if I can make my old ID still work with the new system. A cheaper option, though, would be to tell the card office that I lost my ID at the gym this weekend and pay the lost card fine.

Why do I want to keep my old, defective ID? Not nostalgia. It's because it has my old job title on it, from when I was faculty. And I use it to get 15% off with J.Crew's (and other retailers') teacher discount program.