Smart ID Cards and Locks Facing Resistance at New Jersey University

Faculty unions at Kean University in Union, NJ are fighting a new policy requiring employees to wear identification cards on campus. According to coverage in The Star-Ledger, the university spent about $30,000 on a pilot program to install keyless locks on classroom doors last fall. The locks can only be opened by swiping an authorized ID card.

But the unions fear the technology will violate faculty members' privacy by recording their "comings and goings" without improving campus security and could be used "for disciplinary purposes."

A university spokesman was quoted as saying the purpose of the new system is to ensure the "safety and protection of individuals and access to particular laboratories." He said the ID cards not only record who has accessed a given door and when but also enable students and rescue workers to identify legitimate authority figures during a crisis.

The unions argue that the faculty has received no formal training on what to do in a crisis, a charge the school has confirmed. Also, they say, the school isn't requiring students to wear the badge, which means security people will be unable to determine who has approval to be on campus during an emergency.

The university said it is reviewing union concerns about the project and may amend policies after getting feedback from the state of New Jersey on its emergency management plan.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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