Tennessee State University issues new, trackable ID cards

March 27, 2014

Tennessee State University in Nashville has mandated new trackable ID cards for students, staff, and faculty to carry at all times. Effective since March 1, these IDs are required to access the university campus, TSU events, and utilize resources like the library and cafeteria. In addition to granting access, IDs will track the wearer’s movements within the campus. 

The step comes in the wake of recent vandalism, break-ins, and a shooting.

The university paper describes the new requirement as ‘stepping up’ security measures. The associate vice president for Administration, Dr. Curtis Johnson, says, “Our primary concern is always to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our students, employees, and visitors. Safety on our campus is priority number one, and with the new policy, we want to ensure that our students, faculty and staff are safe at all times.”

TYT, a college news and culture channel on Youtube, thinks the move is a controversial one. Libertarian students are especially worried about their privacy. Moreover, students question the viability of the action, noting that it’s an expensive undertaking, and yet the security isn’t “fool-proof.”​


The ID cards also run the risk of being stolen, and in a huge university like TSU, it would still be hard to zero in on any one person. Uncertainties about how the data will be accessed (whether in real-time or over a period) also point to inefficiencies in the system.

Some also think the trackable IDs are overkill. Existing ID cards that students can put money on to check out books, or credit cards, are already keeping tabs on their activities.

Dr. Johnson, however, thinks trackable IDs will create accountability.

“Implementing this new policy also provides a measure of accountability we would not otherwise have,” he says. Staff and faculty members reportedly embrace the new step as long as the purpose is security and safety.

“If it is for the safety of our students, faculty and staff, I am all for it,” says Dr. Veronica Oates, associate professor of Family and Consumer Sciences and president of the Faculty Senate.

The new ID card allows access to different buildings of the university campus and doubles as a debit card (for purchases) and meal card (to buy food).

“However, we are replacing the key FOB (for students) with ID Cards containing a Proximity Chip, along with a magnetic strip on the rear of the card that provides greater capabilities, such as access control to residence halls, computer labs, athletic events, concerts, digital media labs, Post Office Services, and several other academic locations,” Johnson says.

To further enhance security, the university administration has installed additional lighting, hired more staff, and put in new access points.

Tags: , , , ,

Category: News, security, Surveillance

; ;