ID Center needs new policy for lost cards

The only thing more traumatic for a TCU student than losing a student ID card is losing it on a Friday evening.Thus begins a weekend of digging for whatever leftovers you can find out of the fridge and waiting pathetically outside your dorm for some passing resident to let you inside your building.

At any other time of the week, a lost student ID means an inconvenient trip to the ID card office in the student center and 20 bucks down the drain (on send-home, of course). But once 5 p.m. Friday rolls around, all that changes. At this point the office shuts down until Monday morning and a student must put his or her life on hold for a few days.

It’s understandable that the office should only be open on the typical work schedule – Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 – but the ID card has become so much of a necessity that going without it for a few days can cause some serious problems.

For students living on campus, the loss of an ID card right before the weekend means they either have to get temporary cards for the dorms or make sure to travel everywhere with a friend for a few days. This method, I can personally attest to, is inconvenient, but not impossible.

Going without a meal card, on the other hand, is a little more difficult. Unless you are able to find a manager or supervisor, most food servers will tell you that there’s nothing they can do and that you have to find some other way to pay for food. Students living in the dorms already have to buy a meal plan of a minimum of $1,150 a semester. They shouldn’t have to resort to shelling out additional cash for food for a few days due to the loss of a card. That money should be available to students whenever they need it.

But the scariest part of losing a student ID is what happens to the card itself. The first action a student should take in case of a lost card is to notify the ID center so it can freeze the account, preventing any random person who picks up the card from using that student’s money. If the center is closed, though, the lost card can still be used, whether the rightful owner of the card is the one using it. Rarely do cashiers check the picture on the card to see if it matches the user.

If a card does fall into the wrong hands, the person who finds it has an entire weekend to drain your account, while both you and the card center remain completely unaware. And used money is used money, no matter what the excuse. A lost ID card may seem only a temporary inconvenience, but it can easily turn into a semester-long struggle, especially if the student’s meal plan account runs dry.

If the center can’t stay open on the weekend, students should at least have a means of freezing their accounts until the center opens again. There should also be a way for students to continue to purchase food without their IDs. This method could simply be allowing students to make purchases using their ID numbers and driver’s licenses, or by creating a temporary card that records all purchases to be subtracted from their accounts later. To faculty and staff, the university might be only a weekday job, but they also need to keep in mind that it is the students who call the campus home all day every day.

Valerie Cooper is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Azle. Her column appears every Wednesday.