Students at Pomona College will receive new identification cards within the next few weeks, said Frank Bedoya, Senior Associate Dean and Director of Housing & Operations at the Office of Campus Life (OCL).
The cards will feature FeliCa technology, a contactless smart card system developed by Sony and licensed to Blackboard Inc. for distribution in the United States. All Claremont Colleges currently use Blackboard card technology.
“The contactless FeliCa technology means that students just have to tap their card to the reader instead of swiping,” Bedoya said. “The first place you’ll see this being employed is in the dining halls.”
Bedoya said dining hall cashiers occasionally get repetitive stress injuries because they have to swipe the cards of each diner.
“Sometimes the magnetic strip is so old that you have to do it for a long time,” said Alicia Fresca, a cashier in Oldenborg and Frary Dining Halls. “We get anywhere from 200 to 700 students a meal and if you have 15 cards in a row that don’t want to swipe, it hurts.”
“That was kind of the big push to really move forward [with the new IDs],” Bedoya said.
Contactless readers are already in place at Keck Graduate Institute and a number of Claremont University Consortium locations, including the library’s Honnold Café and a few vending machines. New card readers will gradually be installed in Pomona’s residence halls and academic buildings with future renovations.
The new readers will work with both the new contactless cards and the older magnetic strip cards, Bedoya said.
“A few groups still use cards with just the mag stripe—summer conferences, for example,” Bedoya said.
The shift to contactless cards represents the first change to Pomona’s ID cards in roughly ten years.
“It seemed like it was a good time to change, given that the technology existed,” Bedoya said.
OCL has already begun handing out new cards to students who come into the office to replace lost IDs.
Whitney Hengesbach, Associate Director of the Office of Communications, designed the new card. With more blue than the primarily purple old cards, the new design features a photo of Mason Hall.
“We felt that putting a bricks and mortar image on there helps show our pride as a good looking college,” Hengesbach said.
Julia Shrieve PO ’15 said she thinks the new system will be more convenient than swiping and that the card design is “sleek.”
Unlike with the old cards, students cannot punch holes in the new IDs to put them on keychains. Doing so would damage the FeliCa technology built into the card. OCL has ordered lanyards and cardholders to be distributed with the new IDs. Once those items arrive, general distribution of the IDs will begin.
“The only way folks will get their new ID card is to turn in the old one,” Bedoya said. He said that he expects that distribution will occur sometime next week in the dining halls during mealtimes.