Another academic year is quickly approaching, and faculty and students at Valley City State University will be immersed in a variety of changes throughout campus.
Known for being a leader in technology, VCSU has been issuing each student a laptop during the academic year since 1996. The laptops come equipped with software programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop Elements. Students also gain access to other software programs when they are enrolled in certain courses.
VCSU students and faculty can easily access their email, which is the main form of communication among instructors and students, using the high speed internet connection available to them on campus.
But new to VCSU's technological platform is the Viking Card.
The Viking Card is an updated version of the student and faculty identification cards. The card now serves as an ID card, debit card and even a key. The microchip and antenna built within the card gives students access to residence halls and other facilities, replacing keys altogether.
Stephanie Roelfsema, housing director, said that they are not distributing residence hall keys this year.
The past student ID card could be used to pay for their meals, but the new Viking Card will serve as a form of payment across campus offices, acting as a debit card for students.
The card will be used for purchasing items in the Viking I restaurant, VCSU Bookstore and Viking Grounds, the Starbucks coffee shop in the Student Center. It will also serve as a form of payment in the business office.The card may eventually function with campus vending machines as well.
The Viking Card will be used for checking out materials at VCSU's Allen Memorial Library and from the Information Technology Help Desk.
"We take seriously the technology mission on campus," VCSU President Steve Shirley said, adding that Chief Information Officer Joe Tykwinski has invested a lot of effort on the new cards.
Shirley said the card makes things easier for the students and also allows the university to track attendance at athletic games, concerts and other campus events.
The university plans to use the cards to monitor how many freshmen attend events during the first six months of this academic year. It will give them a better understanding of who attends which events.
Shirley says that eventual plans for the card will also include a collaboration with area merchants and retailers, where Viking Card holders can make purchases using money loaded on to the Viking Card.
The card is also a way for parents of college-aged children to know their children are taken care of financially. Shirley said that maybe sometimes parents don't want to give their children $500 because they don't know where it will end up. If they can put money on the debit card, they'll know that it's being spent on gas, food and other such items.