The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

ID cards go online, add fee

By Peter Wright

A new transaction system for auxiliary points on the Macalester Plaid Pass and a laundry catastrophe in the Kirk basement have left several Macalester students with soggy sheets and slightly bigger credit card bills.Card Service Manager Onenee Saloka said the school recently started using Manage My ID, or MMID, a Web-based system that allows people to add money to their aux. points online.

As a result of the new service, Saloka said, students are no longer be able to add money to their cards at the Info Desk. He said they discontinue service at the Info Desk partially to prevent human error.

“We had a lot of problems when that happened,” Saloka said.

While adding money at the Info Desk was free and the ValuPort machine does not charge a service fee, under the MMID system a $1 service fee is added to any transaction. Saloka said that amount was determined by his office to cover extra expenses, noting that other schools using the MMID system charge higher service fees.

“The reason we charge a service fee is for administrative costs,” he said.

The MMID service costs roughly $5,000-$6,000 each year, Saloka said, but the budget for Card Services will remain the same. He said MMID is worth the extra expense because of the added benefits.

“We have made a lot of improvements to how aux. points are used and to improve service to our students,” Saloka said.

Saloka said the new system allows parents to add money to their students’ cards from any computer with Internet access. Previously they would have to mail a check to their son or daughter; their student would then cash it and take the cash to the Info Desk or ValuPort machine.

He also said the new system allows people to add money instantly 24/7, using the example of a student who discovers at 2 a.m. their auxiliary points have run out but they need to do laundry immediately.

Kirk Residential Hall Director Lindsay Butterfield agreed that the Macalester card system has a lot of high points. As a recent St. Catherine University graduate, Butterfield said the system of combining student IDs with laundry cards is better than St. Kate’s system, which relied on cards with no identifying factors.

“When I was a student, if you lost your card you lost your money,” Butterfield said.

Like Macalester, St. Kate’s used a card-only system, she said, but, unlike Macalester, each machine was outfitted with a card reader. One downside of Macalester’s system is its complete reliance on a handful of readers, she said, a fact that took center stage in Kirk Hall shortly before Fall Break.

On Oct. 24 every washer and dryer in Kirk stopped working, not because of mechanical malfunctions, but because the single card reader in the laundry room started returning error messages. For the next week and a half, the nearest continuous laundry service was in the dorm complex on the other side of Grand Avenue.

The machines would cut in and out, leaving several residents with soaked clothes and no place to easily dry them, and others with hampers full of dirty clothes on the heels of a major travelling weekend.

“It’s okay to have problems with laundry machines,” Butterfield said, “but it’s frustrating that it’s just that one reader.”

Butterfield said whenever there are laundry-related malfunctions, Res Life staff members or Card Services contact the contractor in charge. The card readers around campus are operated by the New York-based CBORD Group, Inc., Saloka said.

CBORD operates most of the ID card functions at Macalester and provides similar services to companies and campuses around the world, according to their Web site. CBORD is also operates the MMID service, essentially adding another feature to their already existing relationship with Macalester, Saloka said.

“We have seen a great improvement in our services,” Saloka said.

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