5C Students Criticize Dining Hall ID Policies as Restrictive


Student hands card over register
Students entering McConnell dining hall for breakfast tap their ID and “swipe in,” either using Flex, Claremont Cash, or their meal plan. (Adela Pfaff • The Student Life)

The Malott Commons at Scripps College will now require students who do not have their student ID card with them to present an alternative form of identification in order to enter, Malott general manager Tom Adkins announced in an email to the student body on Monday. Previously, students without an ID were able to enter Malott by providing only their ID number.

The change was made in response to people using other students’ ID numbers from lost or stolen ID cards to access Malott, Adkins wrote in the email.

“We have had three or four students report to us that they either lost their card or it was taken and then used at dining halls for meals and board plus dollars,” Adkins added in a statement to TSL.

Adkins emphasized that the new ID requirements do not require students to present a government-issued photo ID.

“For ID we could even take something on their phone with their name on it or a letter with their name on it – we just need some way to match their name to what comes up on the screen for the cashier for the number entered,”  he wrote in a later statement. “Or they could even get something from the Dean of Students office with verification of their name.”

Meanwhile, students at Pitzer College are petitioning for changes to Pitzer’s policies after a student was denied access to McConnell Dining Hall because she did not have her physical ID card, despite offering to provide her ID number. Pitzer requires students to present their IDs to access the dining halls and has been enforcing the policy more strictly this year than in the past.

“When school started this year, a sign was posted at the register reminding students that student ID cards were necessary to swipe in,” Cynthia Bennington, the general manager of McConnell, wrote in an email to TSL. “This is not a new policy. The perception may be that the policy has changed because the team is being more proactive with enforcement of a policy that was already in existence.” 

The Pitzer petition has now gained over 40 signatures. The student who started it did not respond to TSL‘s requests for comment.

Sydney Levine PZ ’18 signed the petition because she has been turned away from McConnell multiple times for ID issues.

“I have been personally denied entry and had to scrounge for dinner multiple times, which is honestly really scary for me,” she wrote in an email to TSL. “I’ve also received a lot of attitude from staff when I asked if I could please use my state ID and Flex in, and provide my student ID number. I’ve been ordered to ‘bring [my] ID next time’ and have seen others get treated really poorly for ID issues too.”

Sophia Montano PZ ’19, another signatory, believes that the ID policy is unnecessarily onerous.

“Because the prices are so high, food shouldn’t be restricted to us,” Montano wrote in an email to TSL. “If the school is going to insist that our eating schedules, and consequently our life schedules revolve around their strict dining hall schedule, then we should at least be allowed to use our ID number to access the food we already paid for.”

Stephanie Cekov PZ ’18 agrees. She signed the petition because her friend had experienced a similar problem while getting a meal. She said the policy is strict, and has put students in uncomfortable situations.

“I think denying people access to food even when they have evidence that they have paid for a meal plan is wrong,” Cekov wrote in an email to TSL. “We need to eat and we’ve paid to eat.”

Bennington is aware that students are unhappy with the enhanced enforcement of ID policies and encourages students to speak to dining managers about their concerns, she wrote in her email to TSL.

“I don’t believe anyone has the intention of creating an unhappy situation,” she wrote. “If a student has a concern about any of our policies, we ask that they come speak with a manager so that we have the opportunity to share more information about why a policy is in place.”

However, dining hall ID concerns are not isolated to Malott and McConnell. Students report difficulties accessing dining halls without their student ID cards across the 5Cs.

“I’ve been denied entry at Pitzer and Frary even with a driver’s license, after explaining that there is a grace period after you lose your ID in which you have to wait to see if it’s found before you shelve out money for a new one,” Julia McCartan SC ’21 wrote in a message to TSL. McCartan recently lost her ID and was unable to replace it for several weeks due to the grace period.

Pomona’s dining halls should not have turned students like McCartan away, Patti Weaver, Pomona’s general manager of dining services, wrote in an email to TSL.

“It would be my expectation that the manager on duty would inform the student to make sure to go and get a replacement ID as soon as possible but to allow the student to come in and eat,” she wrote.

The incident McCartan described is a violation of Pomona dining hall policy, Weaver added.

“Our policy is to never turn a student away regardless of the circumstance,” she wrote. “We should be allowing the student access to the dining hall while we figure out how to account for the meal on our end. I am troubled to hear that this was not followed and negatively affected a student.”

Weaver said she would be meeting with her managers to discuss the issue and pledged to re-train staff on the proper procedures for when students have lost their IDs.

Harvey Mudd College’s policies are similar to the newly enacted ones at Scripps.

“It is required for students to present their ID meal card every time they swipe for a meal,” wrote Miguel Ruvalcaba, general manager of dining services at Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons, in an email to TSL. “Occasionally if a student misplaces or doesn’t have his or her ID, we allowed them to give us their student number with a proof of some kind of picture ID.”

Claremont McKenna College also requires students to present their student ID to access Collins Dining Hall, Joanne Young, CMC’s executive director of public affairs and communications, wrote in an email to TSL.

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