Leslie Montgomery

The technology at the Student Recreation Center door is getting a high-tech upgrade. The student ID card readers that were in place through the summer are being replaced by biometric machines that scan patrons’ palms.

Rec center sources cited many reasons for the change, but the biggest were a desire to prevent non-students from using the facility and a need to update the software.

Dennis Munroe, the gym’s director, said he had been concerned in particular with trouble caused by non-students. “There’s a lot of behavior issues,” he said. “Fights on the basketball court, those kinds of things. It often comes out that it is one of the individuals who has gained entry illegally.”

Munroe claimed, though, that the problems caused by non-students were “nothing that has been a safety threat.”

The new system works by recording the measurements of a student’s hand as a form of identification. Then, when the student needs to enter the building, he or she places a hand on a glass surface that scans it for its measurements. The student must then enter his or her Student ID number to enter the gym and use the facilities.

Under the old system, students would swipe their cards in scanners mounted to turnstiles. The scanners would read the cards, if they corresponded to students taking classes, they would release the turnstiles to allow students access. The problem was, some students would loan or give their cards to students who weren’t taking classes and therefore paying the fee to use the center, which is rolled into the costs of attending the University.

“We don’t know much about those people who are getting to our building,” Munroe said, later adding, “If you are a user of the Rec Center, you know how crowded we are. Every person who accesses the Rec Center illegally is taking the place on a basketball court of a student.”

However, unauthorized entry wasn’t the real reason for the switch, said Tiffany Lundy, membership services director at the rec center. Lundy worked on the change and she said the reason behind it was a simpler one: a change of software. The old system used obsolete software, she said, and no new software was compatible with card-scanners.

“It’s falling apart,” she said of the card system. “It’s time for us to make a change.”

She said the new system is capable of recognizing students even if their hand measurements change. Additionally, students who don’t feel comfortable with the scans, or are incapable of giving hand measurements, can instead decide to check in at the front desk without getting a hand measurement or scan.

The technology cannot be used to record fingerprints or handprints that could be used in a criminal investigation, Lundy said. “Really, it doesn’t have the ability to do that,” she said.

Lundy said five machines will be available by the second week of fall term to students who want hand scans — four in the rec center itself and one in the Student ID office.

The change will likely allow the rec center to open a second entrance, Lundy said.

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