It almost goes without saying that issuing new cards to an entire campus community in a single recarding event is a massive undertaking. Waite recounts working at another large public institution that recarded en masse where, for 50,000 students, the initial project took over a month. Even then, there were still students who never reported to the card office to receive their new credential.
This presents another issue: there’s no guarantee that students or staff will trade in their old card. Having a plan in place to make sure the campus community is aware of the change, and the importance of their participation in the process, is key.
Recarding by attrition
If, however, a campus is recarding for aesthetic purposes, then attrition will likely be the best option. With this method, an institution can distribute new cards over time, typically beginning with new students and students who need their lost or damaged card replaced.
Over time, the old credentials will be phased out. Recarding by attrition is also a cheaper route, as new cards don’t need to be purchased all at once. However, attrition is not recommended when a structural change is being made, as in cases of card technology migrations.
When recarding over time, institutions will need to take into consideration that multiple card designs will exist simultaneously and will still serve as valid student ID cards. Among other efforts, “card envy” can help the recarding effort along. Students with older cards may be inspired to update to the new design, even if their old card is still functioning properly, after seeing their peers with the new credential.
Regardless of the chosen method, card offices should always keep a close eye on their cardstock. It helps if the card office and its staff know how many cards they distribute per semester and how often they need to buy new stock. It’s an operational efficiency that will come in handy when it’s time to order new cards.
Meriano and Waite also highlight the importance of card layout and design. Ideally, an institution’s card design will be an up-to-date representation of the institution’s colors, logo and motto. Card offices also need to consider if its card design will be printed in landscape or portrait orientation.
In 2013, Quinnipiac faced this very consideration when the university added a medical facility, where students needed to wear their student ID as a badge that also needed to be printed in portrait orientation. In order to avoid having to switch back and forth to suit its various cardholder customers, the card office decided to move all student ID cards from landscape to portrait orientation.
Even with careful planning, a campus should still expect to experience minor growing pains. It’s a normal occurrence for recarding events.
In 2016, Quinnipiac decided to change its school colors, and the institution felt it important to reflect this change in its card design. Another growing pain for the card office was that the photo ID on the card was deemed to be too small. Quinnipiac’s department of public safety recommended the ID photos on the cards to be made larger. So, the card office is currently working on creating ID cards with an enlarged photo.
As such, Quinnipiac will continue to recard by attrition and will begin distributing its latest cards — which feature only minor aesthetic changes — in 2018. As for lessons learned, Meriano and Waite encourage institutions to begin the planning process immediately after a recard becomes a possibility.
“As soon as someone talks about a recard, it is wise for your institution to start working immediately,” says Meriano. “The more time you’re allowed and given, the better.”