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Friday, August 23, 2019

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Distribution of updated Cougar Cards delayed by supply shortage


<span style="font-weight: 400;">An industry-wide supply shortage contributed to delays in the implementation of the new card. </span>| Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

An industry-wide supply shortage contributed to delays in the implementation of the new card. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Manufacturing delays have pushed back the rollout of the new Cougar Card design, which won’t be ready in time for residential move-in.  

The new Cougar Cards will be distributed to the campus population throughout the fall semester in two phases, but there is no definitive date for when the cards will become available to returning students, faculty and staff.

The updated cards, which have been in development for the past two years, will become available to incoming non-residential students on Aug. 19, the first day of classes for the fall semester. 

The Cougar Card Office will continue to issue the current Cougar Cards until the new Cougar Cards become available, said Executive Director of University Services Esmerelda Valdez. 

The updated Cougar Card is “a smart card that supports the various technological platforms in the market,” according to the Cougar Card website. The new technology is intended to improve flexibility and security across the UH System. 

The new Cougar Cards are equipped with a chip as well as the existing magnetic stripe, Valdez said.

“The enhanced chip provides robust security functionality, as it protects against card cloning and fraudulent activity,” Valdez said. 

The process of implementing a smart card that supports the variety of technological platforms in the market was an expansive endeavor that included testing the new smart card across campus partners and the systems that integrate with the new card, Valdez said. 

“As with any major project, delays are inevitable and the process has been expedited to the extent possible,” Valdez said. 

Implementation

An industry-wide supply shortage contributed to delays in the implementation of the new card, Valdez said. 

“Manufacturing delays across all major suppliers caused a major backlog in the fabrication of the new cards,” Valdez said.

The distribution of the cards to the campus population will take place over the course of the fall semester in two phases, according to the Cougar Card website

During phase one, the updated Cougar Cards will be distributed to new 2019 residential and non-residential students. New 2019 non-residential students can pick up the updated Cougar Cards on the first day of classes at the Cougar Card Office, located in the Welcome Center retail corridor.

On move-in day, new 2019 residential students will receive the old version of the Cougar Cards, according to the website. The updated Cougar Cards will not be available for residential move-in, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 15 through Aug. 17. 

“Due to manufacturing delays, the new cards will not arrive in time for move-in,” Valdez said. “As such, new incoming residents will receive current Cougar Cards during move-in.”

Returning residential and non-residential students, as well as faculty and staff, will be able to use their current Cougar Card until they pick up their new Cougar Cards during phase two of the distribution process. 

Direct messaging will be sent to students, faculty and staff with information on the distribution of the new card, according to the Cougar Card website. No date is provided for when phase two is set to initiate. 

Student impact

Students who have experienced difficulty with the current Cougar Card design are eager for the transition to the new Cougar Card to take place. 

“With the past Cougar Cards, I have constantly misplaced or lost them, being unable to get into my dorm,” said nutrition sophomore Sherellin Posana. “Having a chip would be extremely helpful and more convenient for me.”

The tap-and-go functionality of the new design would also require less swipes and less wear and tear on the cards. 

“The old Cougar Cards were very susceptible to wearing down, making them difficult to use after you’ve had them for a long time,” said political science and history sophomore Gigi Eaton. “A chip is just more dependable.” 

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