Corinne Shuford, Contributing Writer
Since the early 2000’s Mississippi College has been using magnetic strip key cards instead of the old-fashioned metal contraptions everyone uses at home. The next step in this glorious evolution: proximity cards.
“It’s more secure,” said Brent Perkins, assistant director of public safety. “It has an internal chip that is read by the sensor, which makes it a lot harder to steal information.” These plans have been in the works for several years, and now, finally, they are coming to fruition. “The pods were the catalyst,” said Perkins.
First the residence halls, then the academic buildings will be kitted out with these new-fangled sensors. Students authorized to spend time in the academic buildings after hours will be able to get access permission incorporated directly into the chip’s programing.
The residence halls that are already equipped with the new sensors include Whitman, New Men’s, Latimer-Webb, University Place, and soon, Gunter/Hederman.
In addition to no longer wasting valuable time swiping cards, the main benefit of this new technology is increased card durability. “[My card] last year broke in half,” said Mary Segal, a sophomore and English Writing Preprofessional major, “It’s nice that you can scan it.”
The upfront cost of the cards is a little more daunting than it has been previously, but Perkins is confident that “it will be more cost effective in the long run.”
Some students have been slightly concerned about the possibility of being tracked with these new cards, but Perkins quickly dispelled the notion. Proximity and GPS features have not yet been added due to a lack of freedom with the budget and a lack of necessity.
“We can keep track of how many people go in and out of buildings,” he said, “And even that isn’t perfect, it’s the south, people open doors for each other all the time.” Public Safety can keep track of people because every time a card is swiped, the student’s 700-number is recorded. “We’ve always been able to see that,” Perkins said, “This new thing is just more accurate.”
Segal wasn’t fazed by this. “I think it is comforting,” she said, “It could be seen as Orwellian, but it’s not like there’s a chip in my brain.”
Dystopian fears aside, Perkins assuaged all worries about abuse saying, “We could authorize for investigative or administrative reasons, but we are the owners of that system.” In other words, only the public safety office has access to the records on who occupies buildings at certain times. Big Brother is not watching—too closely.
In conclusion, there seem to be very few disadvantages associated with the new cards. The biggest drawback according to general consensus is that punching a hole in one of the new cards to hook it on a lanyard is now a thing of the past. “The whole thing goes down,” said Perkins. He ruefully recommended putting it in a wallet or getting a lanyard with a plastic pouch. “I’m really annoyed it can’t be punched. You have to awkwardly hold it,” said Melody Williams, a junior and Kinesiology major.
In short, these new cards are a nice precaution in these turbulent times