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MIT Identification Cards Inferior To Harvard's

The complaints of DeWitt C. Seward IV '93 ["New Cards Create New Hassles," March 11] about the many problems associated with the new MIT ID cards are right on target. What I find most annoying about the whole process (aside from the whole issue of whether or not we need a new system at all) is the appallingly incompetent way in which the Office of Housing and Food Services has been handling the transition to the new card system.

I had a new photograph taken in Du Pont on Registration Day (because as an "old" grad student, my now-obsolete ID card dates from before the era of digitized ID photos) and have been waiting for my new card ever since. On February 18, I contacted my house manager (as instructed on the blue temporary card), only to learn that the Office of Housing and Food Services has assigned only one staff person to deal with complaints from the entire campus.

As a student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology program, I am registered at both MIT and Harvard. Last fall, Harvard decided to switch over to a new photo ID system for all of its students and faculty. Within a week of having my new ID photo taken, I received my new card in the mail. The whole process was fast, efficient, and hassle-free.

The new Harvard cards provide identification, building access, library privileges, and use of the athletic facilities. Furthermore, in stark contrast to the new MIT Cards, the new Harvard ID cards look good; the photos are large (about 1 inch square), the layout is well-proportioned, and the background features an attractive illustration of Harvard Yard. MIT's efforts have been embarrassingly lame by comparison, plagued by a combination of political turf battles, unwieldy bureaucracy, and plain incompetence. The Institute should be ashamed of itself for having been out done by Harvard.

Scott I. Berkenblit G