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OneCard expands access, increases options

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When the OneCard system at the college was launched in May 2016, it was implemented to create a single system that would enable students to have card access to most buildings on campus. Now, the OneCard serves as an ID, a key for more buildings on campus, a library card, and a way to access dining services on- and off-campus.

This year, the OneCard has expanded to grant students access to all dorms as well as more academic buildings, such as Beardsley, Trotter, and Pearson. In addition, an email from Paula Dale in September announced that the Swarthmore Campus and Community store would be accepting Swat Points on the OneCard for snacks, beverages, and health and beauty products.

Now the OneCard can also be utilized at another dining service on campus: Paces Cafe.

We no longer accept cash, but we take Swat Points (off-campus points) and Garnet Cash. The change in accessibility has created a spike in sales and put pressure on our staff,” Ahmad Shaban ’19, Paces director, said of the shift to Paces being on the meal plan.

While the OneCard has broadened dining options both on- and off-campus for students since its implementation, some students note drawbacks. Adan Leon 18 believes that the OneCard is only useful for Swat Points, points that can be used at exclusive vendors in the Ville.

In terms of living off-campus, [the OneCard] was helpful because I could use points at the co-op. If it weren’t for Swat Points, the OneCard wouldn’t be worth it,” Leon said.

Leon also finds the use of the OneCard by Public Safety for building access occasionally problematic. He believes these issues did not exist prior to the implementation of the OneCard and are a part of a larger transition for Public Safety.

“When I came here in fall 2013, Public Safety was very helpful and saw themselves as a service. I think [Public Safety] and its use [of the Onecard] is part of an overall shift towards security instead of service. For example, they don’t open the doors for students anymore. Because they have a registry they can easily access electronically, they are now able to deny students access to certain places,” Leon said.

In contrast, director of Public Safety Mike Hill highlighted the increased access that the OneCard provides.

Prior to OneCard, students would not be able to gain access after a certain time or would have to sign out a key from public safety; now students can study and work whenever they need to,” Hill stated in an email.

While the OneCard is viewed as beneficial to some and as an occasional annoyance to others, its capabilities can go beyond building access. The OneCard also has the ability to track the movements of individual students, though Hill wrote that Public Safety does not do so unless in cases of emergency.

“In an emergency or a situation where there is a concern for the safety of a community member, the Director of Public Safety, in consultation with the Care & Concern Team, is authorized to review where an individual entered or swiped last,” Hill wrote.

Executive Director of Auxiliary Services Anthony Coschignano hopes to expand the services of the OneCard to ensure greater security on campus.  

“Ultimately, the plan for OneCard is to have all campus buildings online. This helps reduce the number of keys, increases the security by being able to ensure doors are not left unlocked, and provides a way for students to keep track of multiple services in one, easy place,” Coschignano wrote in an email.

In addition, Coschignano sees the OneCard being tied into other systems, such as SEPTA,  as well as the OneCard offering a more comprehensive set of services in the future.

“We are still in the process of adding functionality to the OneCard program. As this evolves, students will eventually have one card that will keep track of a wide variety of services in one place,” Coschignano said.

The OneCard and its expansive role on campus indicate that it will continue to remain a part of the lives of Swarthmore students.

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