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MIT LSC To Begin Accepting TechCASH

By Matthew H. Kwan


The Lecture Series Committee will accept the MIT Card for tickets and refreshments at the end of the month.

“I am very happy that we are finally getting it,” said LSC Chairman Alex Rolfe G. “LSC has wanted to have the card for a long time.”

LSC will accept the Card starting with their annual Science Fiction Marathon Jan. 25, according to an LSC press release.

Rolfe said that LSC investigated using the MIT Card, also known as TechCASH, several years ago for the convenience of MIT students purchasing tickets to film and lecture events in 26-100.

Students will now be “able to use their MIT card to purchase tickets, cards with a fixed cash-value for refreshments, and multipasses,” according to the press release.

Security a concern

Security issues stood in the way of past efforts to use the MIT Card. A student group accepting the Card could, in principle, record information from a student’s card, duplicate the card, and use it to make purchases on the student’s account.

Assistant Director of Enterprise Services John M. McDonald said that there was nothing to stop a student group if they chose to steal from MIT student accounts. “They could absolutely do that if they wanted to,” Mcdonald said.

However, McDonald also added that it was “very unlikely”, because students can check their accounts online and check for irregularities. In the past, students could not check the balances online.

Rolfe said that stealing from accounts in this way would be quite difficult, and only ten or fifteen LSC workers have access to the card reader.

The Student Activities Office was also concerned about unauthorized refunds, Rolfe said.

However, it is possible to disable the card reader’s refund capability, and McDonald is looking into additional protections, Rolfe said.

Expensive equipment was another barrier. A card reader costs about $1,500 and requires a dedicated phone line to operate.

LSC went to the Undergraduate Association last November for funding and received $2,200 to cover a card reader, a receipt printer, and part of the phone line installation, Rolfe said.

“We presented a proposal at one of their meetings and received an allocation,” Rolfe said.

MIT charges a fee of four percent of each purchase to use the system, but Rolfe was not concerned about the commission. “It’s small enough compared to the convenience the people get when using the card,” Rolfe said.

LSC first to use TechCASH

LSC will be the first student group to accept TechCASH. While the other student groups may follow, no arrangements have been made.

“We’re doing this for the LSC,” Mcdonald said. “If things go well, other student groups will [probably] be able to use it also.”

Students were positive about the change and said that it would be more convenient. Some students said they were more likely to go watch movies at 26-100.

“I think it’s cool that they are accepting the card,” said Lisa R. Messeri ’04.

“Definitely,” said Jennifer A. Miller ’04. “Yeah, it’s definitely more convenient.”