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photo illustration by Mico Mazza

New student card integrates services and goes online

THIS JUNE, A new student ID card was made available at the University of Ottawa. The all-in-one uOttawa Card has a fresh look and new functions that make it more useful, secure, and convenient for students.

“We tried to get rid of some of the run-around on campus. We’re trying to give students easier access to information and easier access to [using] their cards,” said Patrick Genest, Food Services manager at the U of O who has been working on the project for the past two years.

“We said, ‘We’re best off integrating all the services into one card, simplifying the student’s life on campus, and also making it possible to get everything done online before they get [onto campus].’”

The cards still function as library, print, photocopy, and Sports Services access cards, but there are a number of new locations they can be used.

“With the meal plans, [students] used to only able to buy their food from Chartwells. As of January 2012, they’ll be able to use the [uOttawa Card] at the Pivik, 1848, Café Alt, and next year [at] Café Nostalgica,” said Genest. It can also be used to make purchases at the University of Ottawa Bookstore.

Genest explained the negotiating process is also underway with many other vendors.

“We’re going to add other places on campus, [such as] the Draft Pub, the Bac à Frites, Second Cup on Laurier … and eventually we’re going to roll that out onto off-campus providers, so we’re talking about maybe Subway, [for example].”

He also mentioned the possibility of incorporating laundry, taxis, and pre-ordering meals online with the uOttawa Card, which, he explained, will become the “be-all, end-all card within the next few years.”

“The only thing you can’t do is … buy lottery tickets, cigarettes, and alcohol with your card.”

The uOttawa Card also has improved security features as the card management system has been moved online.

“You used to put money on [the chip of your card] for printing and photocopying. If you lost your card, you lost your money,” Genest said. “Now this is all done online. Your money resides in an online account, almost like a bank. So you can see all your online transactions: What you bought, how much, the date, what time, what location.”

Students can now add money to their uOttawa card online rather than wait in line, deactivate their card if it’s lost or stolen without losing the funds stored on it, and access their account at any time, from anywhere.

“Even better,” said Genest, “Mom and dad can add money online if you want [them] to. They can do it from anywhere in the world—all they need is an Internet connection.”

But that’s all parents will be able to do. Genest explained since the student is the client, the features on the parents’ page don’t allow access to any account information or transaction histories; the only function enabled is adding funds.

Upper-year students can bring their current student card to Tabaret Hall to exchange it for a new one during My Prep Week, or afterward to the uOttawa Card offices (room 106 of the Unicentre). The old cards will be phased out by May 2012, leaving time to use up any balances remaining on them. For more information or to access your account, visit Uottawa.ca/uottawacard.

-Ali Schwabe, with files from Jane Lytvynenko