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The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Opinion: Mobile Blue Demon Cards do not improve public safety

Aidan Hansen

Students returning to campus this fall might have noticed a new feature of the DePaul student lifestyle: mobile Blue Demon Cards. 

 About 8,000 students have their mobile IDs set up, and that number will continue to grow as the year progresses. Bob McCormick, the vice president of Information Services, said that the main reason mobile IDs were introduced was for student safety.

“The new Blue Demon Cards are more secure than the previous magnetic stripe cards,” McCormick said. “DePaul is always considering the security of our campus as we make changes, and we want to continue to be proactive.” 

 For many students, myself included, the push from the DePaul administration to begin using mobile ID cards instead of physical ones came out of nowhere. McCormick said that planning began in 2018, and campus card readers were updated over the summer of 2020.

Student safety, both on and off campus, is a growing issue at DePaul. It seems like every other day that students receive a public safety alert about a robbery or assault on DePaul’s campus. During the 2021 to 2022 academic year, there were 26 public safety alerts issued to students. Thursday, Sept. 14, DePaul hosted a campus safety summit to discuss implementing more safety measures on campus. One of the topics discussed was whether DePaul should transition to being a closed campus, which would require students and faculty to swipe or scan their IDs to enter campus buildings. Columbia College Chicago, located only a few blocks from DePaul’s Loop campus, is a closed campus. 

Many students are divided over the issue. 

DePaul student Praneetha Reddy Sowdi supports having a closed campus. 

“That would be a good thing,” Sowdi said. “That is the best thing because it’s secured. People who have an ID, only they can enter into the campus.” 

In all honesty, I don’t see how making DePaul a closed campus would help with student safety. Most incidents occur outside of campus buildings, so increasing security inside is the wrong answer. I feel much safer inside campus buildings than I do walking between classes or taking the train home at night, so requiring students to tap or swipe their IDs to go to class feels unnecessary.

DePaul student Ella Hall believes that requiring an ID to access campus buildings will cause traffic jams for students trying to attend class. 

 “If we had to get into every hall with a mobile tap, it would take forever to get anywhere,” Hall said.

 Hall works as a desk receptionist for the housing department and notes that the use of mobile IDs has caused significantly more problems than physical ones. Hall said that it takes longer to verify a student’s identity if they are using the mobile ID and that many students had trouble  adapting to the technology and remembering to keep their phones charged.

 “The whole point of the [mobile ID] was that it was supposed to be easier, but I can’t really think of that many uses where it actually is,” Hall said. “It just made something that should be super quick take longer, which feels like it’s going against the point of introducing the mobile IDs.”

 After speaking with multiple students on either side of the issue, I find myself agreeing with Hall. Students already have issues with arriving to class on time due to CTA wait times. Imagine the congestion that will happen if every single student needs to tap into every single campus building in order to get to class. Combine that with the amount of technology malfunctions that are bound to happen, and students are going to find themselves missing large chunks of class.

 To be transparent, I haven’t set up my mobile ID yet, and I don’t know if I ever will. I don’t live in the dorms, and I rarely need to be in campus buildings after hours, so my Blue Demon ID usually sits in my wallet collecting dust, and I would like to keep it that way. 

 Making DePaul a closed campus is not the answer to our public safety problem. The DePaul administration absolutely should be doing more to protect students, but this is not the answer, and it might end up causing more harm than good.

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  • D

    DePaul StaffSep 28, 2023 at 11:22 am

    When I was a student at DePaul, U-Pass was a manual swipe, not tap, with a physical card. Physical cards caused far more congestion than I ever see today, especially with the upgrade to Ventra with a tap card or mobile cards. The congestion that I do see with Ventra cards and mobile cards these days are still far less than the previous system.
    I have used the mobile ID for quite a few months now, and it’s been so much easier than a physical card…as the other review stated, it doesn’t take very long at all to tap your mobile ID.
    Over the years, I have seen and heard about several incidents that have occurred inside of our buildings due to the fact that they are open to the public, both in LPC and the Loop. I can see how making DePaul a closed campus would increase safety of students, faculty, and staff. I think it’s definitely a start, but at the same time, I believe that the city should be doing a lot more to increase the safety across the city.

  • D

    DePaul StudentSep 25, 2023 at 9:40 am

    It takes literally less than two seconds to tap your phone and unlock the door. I’m not sure how you’re really qualified to comment on this when you said yourself that you don’t even have your ID downloaded on your phone. I’m pretty sure that the multiple students who were brutally attacked in our buildings would say that being attacked is a lot more inconvenient than having to tap their phone to enter a building. This is tone deaf.

    • D

      DePaul StudentOct 11, 2023 at 7:55 pm

      Actually, the mobile tap is a far less secure system than the swipe with the physical ID card. Swiping in with a physical ID card seems to have been safer, as the on campus crime has increased alongside the introduction of the mobile ID. I’m not implying correlation, but I’m simply stating that the phone tap is less safe than the physical swipe as it’s much harder to verify student identity.