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.