Beginning this fall semester, the WOLFcard became the new official student ID card. Its possibilities range from free bus rides to paying for a cup a joe. The new card has made a quiet entrance into the University of Alaska Anchorage scene, but students are slowly realizing it's vast potential.
Stuart Roberts, WOLFcard administrator, said a committee was formed late last year to look into a new ID card system. Staff from a variety of departments convened to see how the element of services could be upgraded. The system they chose is one used in approximately 200 universities in Canada and the United States.
“It's a very robust system, very stable system,” said Roberts.
The same vendor is also used by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which Roberts said would make the two campus card systems compatible.
The WOLFcard acts as the official University of Alaska Anchorage ID card for students, staff and faculty. It also works as a People Mover bus pass and allows access to campus movies and concerts along with all workout facilities. The card stores information that allows the vendors to access the cardholders student fee information.
The WOLFcard system also allows students, staff and faculty to deposit money into two different accounts, one for Dining Dollars and one into a general debit count. The card will deduct money from the general account when used at copiers or microfiche machines in the UAA Consortium Library, vending machines, laundry facilities for housing students and to purchase tickets for athletic events. Dining Dollars can be used at any university dining facility or vendor.
The card does have some downfalls. If it is lost or stolen, the cardholder is responsible for debits made until the WOLFcard office is contacted and the card deactivated. Refunds are also not made unless the student graduates or officially withdraws from all classes.
Student reaction has been apathetic. One of the biggest complaints heard at the Campus Center Information Desk when they tell students they need a new ID is having to sit for another photo. Others said that they wouldn't deposit money on their cards because they are afraid of it getting lost or stolen or because they would spend the money too fast. Although some of those attitudes seem to change once they realized exactly where the money could be spent.
“You can use it at Subway?” said sophomore Lacey Wisniewski, referring to the new Subway location in lower level of the Campus Center. Wisniewski is currently only using the WOLFcard to eat at the Commons.
Elizabeth Rizzo, supervisor of the Corner Brew in the Campus Center estimates that 40 percent of her customers use the WOLFcard for their daily caffeine fix.
“Most of them are pretty happy with it, probably because it's so easy to use. They go through their money pretty fast,” said Rizzo.
Roberts said that it's hard to tell how often the cards are being utilized at different locations, although he knows that Dining Services has seen a lot of activity. Currently he is working on some glitches that will allow the system to interface with the Campus Bookstore and vending machines, both of which should take place within the next few weeks. Overall, he has heard positive reactions and has seen few system problems.
“This was a major effort to try to introduce a new system that would benefit students,” said Roberts.