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Card Readers Regulate Access to Du Pont Gym

By Diana S. Cheng


In a move to restrict usage of the athletics facilities to the MIT community, all users of Du Pont Gymnasium must swipe their MIT identification or athletic cards through electronic card readers as of yesterday.

The MIT Athletics Department installed card readers to “control unauthorized access to our facilities,” according to Aquatics Coordinator and Equipment Coordinator Brian W. Callahan.

Manu Sridharan ’01, who uses Du Pont to play intramural basketball, said that he doesn’t mind the new system. “It’s not a big deal,” he said. He thinks that the readers are “certainly better for [the athletics department].”

Veronica Garcia ’02 only uses Du Pont for her Physical Education classes. She said that the readers are “a pain because now I have to carry my ID around; I have no choice.”

Also, now that the card readers regulate entrance into Du Pont, front desk workers must “buzz in” guests and visitors on “athletic department business from other companies,” Callahan said. They also monitor the lobbies as another measure of security.

Macdaniel D. Singleton, Assistant Professor of Physical Education and baseball coach, said that some “people who use MIT’s facilities don’t belong here,” and that the electronic card readers could cut down theft. “Harvard has more security,” he added. “If used correctly, [Du Pont athletic card readers] will be a plus.”

Garcia noticed, however, that she could “easily lend [her ID]” to anyone, and that “checking the actual picture on the ID” would be more effective in keeping out unauthorized visitors than swiping the card through an electronic reader.

Readers first step in modernization

Callahan said that the readers are part of an effort to “computerize and modernize” athletics department processes, such as equipment inventory control for athletics teams. “The majority of colleges all across the country have card access” using Macs or similar systems, he said. The department organized “forums with undergraduates, graduate students, and administrators” to discuss card access policies over the next three to four years, Callahan said.

Card readers will allow the athletics department to have a record of the “number of usages” of Du Pont facilities. The 2000-2001 year is the first year that the athletics card was included with the MIT ID card. Callahan claims that the validations for card readers will verify that the amount of money the administrators are allocating for the athletics department is “on par” with the number of people using the athletics facilities.

Since yesterday was the first day the MIT community used card readers for entrance into Du Pont, the athletics department is “still working the bugs out,” Callahan reported. For example, many students haven’t validated their cards with the athletics department since September. The validation process includes swiping a student’s ID card at the equipment desk, so that it can be included in a computer database with the student’s name and ID number.

Access to athletics facilities is included in the MIT ID cards that undergraduates and graduate students receive. MIT alumni may purchase cards for $250 a year, while faculty pay $125 per year for their cards. Families of students, alumni, and faculty also have discounted rates. The athletics department sells temporary summer, monthly, weekly, and day passes as well.