Café Mac congestion solved

By Amy Ledig

The lines of students that periodically stretched out into the entrance area of the Campus Center from Café Mac over the last three months have become a less common occurrence, for now. After a campus-wide troubleshoot, college staff have located the source of the problem that prevented students’ ID cards from being read by Café Mac’s card swiping system.During periods in which the system could not read IDs, Café Mac employees­­ recorded ID numbers on a sheet of paper at the dining hall’s entrance in order to keep tabs on student meals. The manual process slowed the usually fluid lines to a crawl.

Macalester’s card services office was flummoxed in its attempts to locate the source of the problem. Staff members initially thought that the malfunction was a result of a hardware problem, but once the hardware was replaced, the problem remained, so the college kept looking.
Wiring was also examined, but to no avail.

Card Services staff member Sandy Burroughs said that the problem persisted for the length of time it did because of the extensive amount of troubleshooting undertaken. She said facilities, textbooks, student accounts and document services were among the other departments and offices on campus affected by card-reading issues.

Staff eventually narrowed down the source of the problem to a site in the athletics building.

“[The site] was trying to communicate and put everyone else in wait state,” Burroughs said.

The issue has now been resolved.

“As long as we don’t plug this particular spot in, we’re fine,” Burroughs said.

“It was quite a couple of weeks!” Joann Johnson, Café Mac’s dining room supervisor, said as she recently swiped student’s IDs at lunch on a functional system. “I was more concerned about the students having to wait and get to class.”

Students expressed displeasure with having to wait in long lines to get to meals. A biting comment card, purportedly expressing a student’s unhappiness at having to wait after paying so much to the college, was posted on the Café Mac comment bulletin board. The college, not Café Mac, was responsible for the card reader system problem, Café Mac’s response to the comment read.

“[The holdups] were annoying because I have such short lunch breaks because of work,” Colleen Good ’10 said. “I think they should get a better system that doesn’t have the glitch.”

Other students took the long lines in stride.

“Having to wait on lines some isn’t such a big deal. It’s just annoying,” Lisa Weinberg ’10 said. “A lot of the time there are lines anyway, even when the cards work.”

Café Mac diners are now reveling in the shorter lines that stand between them and their food.

“Having the card reader working makes the meal time more enjoyable because waiting is annoying, and you already have to wait in line inside Café Mac,” Bryce Slinger ’10 said.

For now, Café Mac is back to normal, as is the wait to get inside. People still come in droves for the frozen yogurt and burritos, and the process is once again, if not speedy, at least not too drawn out.

“Oh yes,” Johnson said when asked if things were going more smoothly now that the system is back up and running. “Don’t you see how fast the lines move?”