Harvard University’s student ID is used for a number of utilities including discounts at campus stores. Harvard ID’s utilities are available to every cardholder be they first-year undergraduates, visiting members of executive education programs or Harvard faculty and staff.
The common thread between student ID card program nationwide, however, is student safety. For a university as large and recognizable as Harvard, the student credential must do more than just provide a means to access secure areas on campus or prove identity; it must also define who is included in the university’s community.
A recent article from the Harvard Crimson considers the limits of Harvard ID. The article questions, for example, should the research assistant at a Harvard-affiliated hospital, or the contract worker who uses a temporary access pass to conduct his work, be issued a Harvard ID credential?
To this point Harvard policy has, understandably, neglected to issue campus credentials to reporters, tourists, and Cambridge residents who walk through Harvard’s campus on their way to work. Harvard’s policy even excluded Extension School students for a time. Each of these individuals, however, requires access to some area of Harvard’s campus at one point or another.
These concerns are taking on new meaning now as Harvard plans the formation of a new Campus Center, a facility that promises a large, flexible indoor gathering space for students, faculty and staff. The Campus Center will feature restaurants, lounges and study areas, as well as space for exhibitions, events and performances.
The first floor of the newly renovated building, with its food and retail offerings, will be open to the public. Those seeking access to the elevators and, subsequently, the upper levels of the building will need a Harvard ID.
While students will understandably merit access to the Campus Center, Harvard finds itself considering where to draw the line with Harvard ID issuance. How far-reaching should a campus ID program be? Who should be included? Excluded?
These are questions that befall any campus card office, but for Harvard who finds itself nestled in and amongst the heart of Boston, there are seemingly other stakeholders that deserve access to some of the school’s grounds. So while the campus ID is used to help ensure student safety, it may also be a key component in the creation and shaping of a campus community.