Residential Life and Services is currently making plans for new and improved validine and meal systems to be effected within the next few years.
"The validine system we had was very antiquated, I think about 12 years old. That's very old for any computer system. We needed to upgrade to a system powerful and flexible enough to offer new services to students," Assistant Director of Residential Life and Services Michele Gross said.
That upgraded system comes in the form of the AT&T subset "Campus-Wide Access Solutions," a digitalized system that potentially allows students much more than the traditional entrance into dining and residence halls.
Residential Life and Services members said changes will be incorporated into the validines gradually.
"We don't want to make the changes all at once. We'd rather be careful and make them individually, so we don't do more at a time than we can do well," Gross said.
According to Gross the new validines will eventually work as student accounts, which can be used instead of actual money to pay for laundry or vending machine snacks.
"They won't be like credit cards, in that students won't be able to accumulate debt on their validines. Instead, they will be able to put money into their accounts and spend it down, then 'recharge' those accounts when they're low," Gross said.
The new validines will replace photocopying cards possibly as early as this January, according to Gross. Other services will be added to the validines over the next few years, and eventually they may even replace keys as a way to unlock dorm doors and take the place of Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) cards in the Wilder cash machines.
The new services provided may ultimately prove to be worth the system upgrade, but disgruntled students said the validine switch has been a short-term hassle.
"As if there weren't enough things to do, you had to wait in line, and get a picture taken. It added to the chaos. And the temporary validines don't always work. Sometimes they get temperamental and won't open the doors," junior Jesse Mausner said.
The temporary validines were issued after the recent UPS strike caused delays in the delivery of the plastic sleeves needed to laminate every permanent validine, according to Cole-Newkirk.
First-year students who already received their permanent validines were also dissatisfied.
"I waited five hours one day and four hours the next day to get my picture taken. I thought the whole situation was totally unorganized and unpleasant," first-year Danielle Tyler said.
"I paid $30,000 to be here and it took me three days and a total of six point five hours just to get my I.D.," first-year Brendan Ravenhill said.
"Our old system was simply too old and too limited to provide the services we're envisioning. It's going to take some time, but most of them will definitely be added soon-it's a matter of 'when,' not 'if,'" Gross said.
Plans to renovate campus dining services, though in the works, are less immediate.
Based on the tabulations of both a Mariott Food Services and a Housing and Dining Committee survey distributed to students campus-wide last April, the Residential Life and Services department and Campus Dining Services are compiling a proposal of potential future dining renovations. Possible plans include turning the Wilder Snack Bar into a convenience store which serves cold sandwiches and Dascomb's cafeteria into a fast-food market.
A Mariott foods team and the Residential Life and Services department are currently analyzing their respective results in order to submit them to the Student Life Committee, the Housing and Dining Committee, the Student Senate and several other committees in late September.
"The surveys seem to indicate that the Oberlin community is ready to make this change. But there is a fear of changing the configuration in the Snack Bar, because the way it is, it's a hang-out spot not just for students but the entire community," Dean of Student Life and Services Charlene Cole-Newkirk said.
"Our goal in submitting this proposal is to find out whether our plans make sense-if students don't feel that this is the right direction to go in, we probably won't go in that direction," Gross said.
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 1, September 5, 1997
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