Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect a source's correct pronouns.
The University of Richmond’s One Card Services started the process of switching from swipe to contactless card readers this August.
UR issued new One Cards that use contactless technology to incoming students for the first time in fall 2020. All incoming classes should have the new cards by fall 2023, and faculty and staff will be issued new cards with their current photo this fall, One Card Services Manager Francine Reynolds said.
“We will continue a phased-in approach to swapping out older card readers for the contactless [readers],” Reynolds said.
Implementing contactless technology has been part of the One Card strategic plan for a couple of years now, Reynolds said. The new matte black card readers have flat surfaces where the contactless cards can be tapped, and still include a swipe mechanism.
“Contactless technology offers better security than the magstripe technology because the information cannot be duplicated,” Reynolds said.
The older cards stored information on a chip, while the new cards have an antenna around their perimeters, Reynolds said. Punching a hole in one of these cards will disable the contactless feature, she added.
UR installed its first contactless card readers in August 2021 on the exterior of the first-year residence halls, Reynolds said.
Depending on the needs of the location, other types of technologies may be considered in the future. This could include One Card access with biometric authentication -- which identifies individuals through physical and behavioral characteristics -- or smartphones using Mobile ID, Reynolds said.
The decision to switch to contactless technology gave One Card Services the opportunity to have the cards redesigned, Reynolds said. The new One Cards have a vertical layout and feature a new picture of the Boatwright Memorial Library bell tower.
The new cards no longer include a blue or red spider to indicate whether a student is 21 years old.
The Cellar, the only on-campus dining location that serves alcohol, will now use government identification in addition to One Cards to determine whether a student is of legal drinking age, Cellar Manager Melissa Comstock wrote in SpiderBytes on Sept. 2.
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Junior Will Stackler questioned whether tap-and-go technology would lead to fewer interactions with staff and whether the new technology could result in reduced employment, particularly in the Heilman Dining Center.
“I don’t think it will eliminate personnel, as it will be a few years before we are fully contactless,” Reynolds said. “There will still be locations with faculty, staff and student interaction of some kind.”
Dylan Miller, a first-year student, noted that the technology had its perks.
“The new One Cards this year make it so convenient to get from building to building without even having to swipe," she said.
Although UR issued the new One Cards to current first-year and sophomore classes, only first-year students have had the opportunity to use the contactless feature because the new card readers have yet to be installed on sophomore residence halls.
“I’m excited for other places around campus to get the new tech,” Miller said. “I think it’ll make things a lot quicker and easier.”
Contact contributor Kathryn Kimmel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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