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New Cards Create New Hassles

New Cards Create New Hassles

I recently went to the Office of Housing and Food Services to inquire about my new identification card. The guy there said that Graphic Arts Service didn't have my picture, and that nobody could take it until possibly later that week. The student identification upgrade strikes me as the quintessentially bad experience with the MIT administration. First, they have a system which works. Maybe it didn't work well, but at least it got the job done. Then, they decided to upgrade it. I don't fault anyone for that. Without upgrades we would still be chasing down rabbits with our bare hands and eating them raw.

But, the implementation of the upgrade was completely incomprehensible. First, students had to get their new temporary card. Changing over to a new card meant that for many students, they were without a meal plan or dormitory access while they tried to play the administration guessing game of "where's my card." Sure, this process was made easier, as students had some leverage: "Well, I can't eat at your precious meal plan facilities until I get one." And the whole idea of a temporary card escapes me. Why bother with the interim card at all if the old system worked? I feel like an unwilling administration toy.

Now, to make matters worse, we need to change over to another card. Here, a much greater percentage of the students never received their upgrade. So, we have to go through the same guessing game of "Where's my card?" This time, there is a new answer: "I am sorry, we can't print up your card until we get your picture, and we can't get your picture until we get set up, which won't be until three weeks after the new system went into effect." Of course I may be wrong. They may not be set up to take the new pictures until well after four or five weeks or even later.

The picture-taking process has only been promised to begin three weeks after the new system started. It will probably be late, meaning more hassle. This causes me to ask a new question: why didn't the newest system just start after all students had an opportunity to get their new card?

In the interim, I can use a new temporary meal card, which really makes this story ridiculous. Before, I needed only two cards to get around campus; my ID card and my library card. Now, after the system has been "upgraded," I need four cards: my original ID, my original library card (I think), my temporary card, and my temporary meal card. This makes the new system 100 percent worse than the old system, to say nothing about all the walking around campus I needed to actually get all of these cards. I can only hope that this "upgrade" involves no more surprises.

DeWitt C. Seward IV '93