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Live! - Opinion

This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

Straight Talking: Photocard Hell

Oct 08 2001 13:58
Mustafa Arif
It’s not just national identity cards that suck.
Frankly, this object is completely pointless.

Amid all this fuss about TfL discount cards, one has to ask the question, why do we need so many student ID cards? The College swipe card says we are students at Imperial College, as well as which department we belong too. The ICU card does the same. The ULU card and TfL card don’t mention the department but still say that we are students at Imperial College.

Why do we need this many cards???

Why can’t ICU just use the College swipe card as proof of student ID? Sure, one or two freaks “opt-out” of Union membership – but these people are supposed to have the same access to Union services as the rest of us. And when it comes to elections, ICU have now followed the lead of C&GCU and RCSU in relying on departmental lists and swipe cards. The ICU membership card serves no purpose other than boosting the ego of those Union hacks that take pride in doing things independent of College as an end in itself. It is also a waste of money that could otherwise be spent on the clubs and societies that are the life-blood of the Union.

Now, given the premise that the swipe card can suffice for ICU, why not slap a ULU logo (and serial number) on the same card? Again, what is the point of ULU having their own cards, other than for egotistic purposes? If ULU were to rely on Colleges’ cards as identifying ULU membership, they would immediately see a huge increase in their registered electorate. And you never know, they might even get more people voting that way. (I would have voted in last year’s ULU elections had I got a membership card, but I couldn’t be bothered to go to the trouble of getting one.)

And so, back to TfL. Why do TfL need to issue their own student ID cards? The comparison with National Railcards is not a fair one as Railcards cost around £20. TfL Student cards are priced at £5, which is supposedly just to cover the handling costs. So, if TfL are to be believed, the Photocard is not a moneymaker. Well, in that case, why not stick a London Transport logo onto College swipe cards, with a Photocard serial number? Surely that would be the most cost-efficient and effective way of running the scheme? It would also save us from having to get a new card every year.

ICU’s Activities Cards seem to be necessary on the face of it. The insurance cover provided with the purchase of each card is essential for some of the activities undertaken by clubs and societies. However, they too are rather pointless. Why can’t the cost of insurance simply be added on to the membership fee for those clubs that require insurance cover? To be fair, Ben Hawkins (the new Deputy President for Finance and Services) has, to his credit, come up with an alternative scheme to buy insurance centrally. So, hopefully, that will be one less piece of pointless identity plastic next year. The question is, does anyone have the resolve to get rid of the rest.

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Discussion about “Straight Talking: Photocard Hell”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Oct 08 2001 19:38

Spooky - I was wondering exactly the same thing while I was wandering through South Ken station today. I agree, there really is no point having so many ID cards. Especially as you have better luck getting student discount with the swipe card than the Union card.

I wonder if the swipe cards would go through the ticket barriers at tube stations...

2. Ash   
Oct 08 2001 21:36

Totally agree with this article (apart from the ICU Travelcard bit - coz that aint gonna work).

Do you reckon that we could propose this as a motion at tomorrow's ICU council meeting? This is one thing that seems to piss many students off, yet no one does anything about it.

ICU's one argument could be that, by getting an activities card we are being insured against peril etc. but couldn't that be granted to all students anyway?

While we're at it, why do we have to fill out the same form everytime we join a society [you know the one, the one which asks if you have a medical condition - now if i'm joining the Indian soc (like i did today), this question is quite irrelevant. ok, i could say "medical condition: fall sick after drinking too much" - derr!]?

Can't ICU keep this information somewhere centrally instead of keeping thousands of redundant forms?

Either they explain to us the reasoning behind this farce or get rid of there many unpopular poncey cards and issue all of us with a "Security/ICU/ULU" card!!

3. Ash   
Oct 08 2001 21:47

While I'm at it...

I'm gonna get really pi**ed off if I see another photo which will remind me of the Dinesh era. Can't you guys get some decent photos or something???

Here's an idea, buy a digital camera for C&GCU and take photos relevant to the article. A good photo for this article could have been a collage of cards we as IC students have to keep - anything original or new.

There was no need to subject Dinesh's eternally smiling face to another hurl of abuse by the readers.

Sanction someone from PhotoSoc to be your regular photographer, but more Dinesh, Sen or Mustafa antics - The Mayhem Trio have more than overstayed their welcome!

Oct 08 2001 21:52

Would there be data protection issues if the medical stuff was stored centrally (when it's shared with each soc)?

And if there's a way around the data protection act (eg "I hereby give permission for my medical information to be shared with ICU Societies"...) then surely they could take it from the medical info which the College stores.

5. Sam   
Oct 08 2001 22:13

"Do you reckon that we could propose this as a motion at tomorrow's ICU council meeting?"

yes, under AOB at the end, but it would be better to present it as a more formal paper next council.

"ICU's one argument could be that, by getting an activities card we are being insured against peril etc. but couldn't that be granted to all students anyway?"

Yes, if you don't mind the fact that some students would end up paying for others. I beleive this will be the case next year.

"Can't ICU keep this information somewhere centrally instead of keeping thousands of redundant forms?"

Beleive me if there was any easy way to enter them electronically, they would do them... do you realise there are about 10,000 club memberships in one year alone? I'm sure in the future we will have some kind of online signup and grouping system...but no-one has built one yet.

If you want my honest answer - if registry were prepare to share student records with the Union, then all we would need is you CID and the club you wanted to join. It's a simple, one click process.

6. KD   
Oct 09 2001 13:42

maybe they are hoping we will lose the cards (cos there are so many) and we would have to buy new ones lol

7. Stef   
Oct 09 2001 14:37

Speaking from sunny Cardiff (it is actually for once), the Cardiff Union is on the same card as the University ID card. Maybe an idea doing that at Imperial. The only problem would be ICU agreeing to it and whoever in College - College Secretary?

8. Atul   
Oct 09 2001 15:17

I agree, there are way too many cards, I don't even remember using the activities card last year. What is the point of the ULU card anyway? I have got into most ULU events just using the IC one. ICU don't accept the swipecard to allow anyone to enter the union on an event night which seems completly odd. I read that all IC members are by default ICU members as well. Although the union card is a better indicator of wether you are officially registered or not since you have to get one every year. The swipecard just has the end date and any student who has dropped out could keep using it. This is probably more a Sherfield issue than a union one.

Oct 10 2001 22:08

Stef, why does the ICU logo need to be plastered onto the IC swipecard? Why can't ICU just accept the College ID card as it is?

Oct 18 2001 16:21

I sent off for my card on 1st October and I'm still waiting. I know someone else who had their photo rejected and so has to fork out another fiver.

It's beyond a joke!

Oct 18 2001 17:28

Yep. I'm still waiting for my LT card. Why can't the sabbs do something useful for students instead of pushing to join the equally lame NUS?

Oct 22 2001 15:57

Speaking of ICU cards... ULU refused to let me in with an ICU card. They wanted to see a college swipe card (which, luckily I had on me).

Oct 22 2001 20:53

... and if we didn't have ICU cards then we wouldn't need to issue them - which would save money.

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