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A Lipscomb student waiting in line at Freshens, with a warning sign about student IDs sitting in front of him
Investigation,  News

Sharing or Stealing? The debate around dining and Lipscomb ID cards continues after recent notice on campus

It’s approaching the end of a semester. One student has plenty of pre-paid credit on their meal card…but their roommate is broke. So they swap ID’s to get a meal. But hold on just a minute. That could now land both of them in trouble.

Sharing student IDs to purchase meals on campus has become a common practice for many students, but Lipscomb is now enforcing a strict new policy that’s going to change our behavior.

You may have seen the signs already: “Lipscomb ID Cards can only be used by the person it belongs to. If you try to make a purchase with a card that does not belong to you the card will be confiscated and assumed as stolen property – Lipscomb Dining Management”

This has left many students on campus wondering what prompted the new rules? Does the punishment of confiscation actually fit the crime of sharing an ID with a friend? Ty Benham and I sat down with Sodexo general manager Anthony Bates to learn more.

“It’s an old policy and it was given to us by Lipscomb Security.” says Bates. “There have been several occasions over the years where IDs are actually stolen. Or we’ve had situations where some folks have taken pictures of their roommate’s IDs and tried to use the scanner card with them.”

Bates says both of those approaches are actually agains the rules and there must be some level of enforcement. Therefore, whenever someone is using someone else’s card, they must assume it’s been stolen and therefore, confiscate it. 

The warning sign about using others’ Lipscomb ID card at the Starbucks inside Bennett Campus Center

“We just want to communicate a little bit better” says Bates. “You’re really not supposed to use other people’s cards. What happens is students have gotten surprised when we’ve done it [confiscation]…. but if we notice it [sharing] we’re supposed to take it, and then that gets students upset. So we said, okay, we need to just post it for everyone to know and realize that this is the policy, it’s given to us by security and we don’t want anybody to be surprised when this happens.”

So what happens when your card is confiscated? Is it gone forever until you spend the $20 that it takes to get a new one? We asked Bates about different scenarios.

“No, no, no. We would take the card and give it to security… We call security and give it to them and they would call the student and find out, ‘Hey, did you, did you loan it to somebody? Is it stolen?'”

Bates did mention that you can use your friend’s card if your friend is present, though there’s an exception to this rule at the cafeteria.

“The policy just from our standpoint is the card is for the person who uses it [the meal plan].” says Bates.

“If you want to come in and bring somebody and pay, that’s great. We don’t care about that, but you have to kind of be there with them… You couldn’t use a meal swipe, but you could use dining dollars… Just as long as they’re [the guest or companion] with you, it doesn’t really matter… but you’ve gotta be there with the card.”

So for example, let’s say that you ran out of swipes. Your friend can swipe their card to get in, but they can’t use a meal swipe to get you in. They must use Dining Dollars, which would cost them $12.75 (the same price as using cash or a credit/debit card). 

Bates’ advice? Pretty simple. “Just don’t share your card, that’s it, it’s just safer not to do that. We’ve got to make sure that you are who you say you are.”

Bates says it can take many hours of monitoring security footage to determine violations.

“We don’t want to get those calls again, where we’re having to go through and look through people’s history. And then security has to go look through footage of who you know on video cameras to see who actually used the card”.

Though Bates hopes that the strict policy doesn’t catch anyone by surprise, he knows that it’s necessary for the security of Lipscomb’s students.

“Honestly it’s a shame, but if people want to steal something, they’re gonna steal something, and that’s just kind of human nature I think more than anything else.”

Story written by Brandon Bigsby and Ty Benham