With rumors of unregistered townhouse parties being broken up with Stag Card readers purchased this year, students have been nervous about throwing and attending parties on campus.

But residence life says the department is no longer using the two $189 machines at unregistered townhouse parties that appear to be in violation of party policies or the student code of conduct.

“The plan was never to use them at registered parties, but only at parties in violation of policies,” said Laura Cantrell, associate director of residence life.

The CardTool devices, which are three-track magnetic stripe card readers, each come equipped with one megabyte of flash memory. They store data in databases and display it on iPod-like screens, called CardVisors.

These machines are typically used to read driver’s licenses’ magnetic strips at clubs, bars, automobile dealerships, liquor stores and health clubs.

They seemed like the perfect way to discourage underage drinking and record students’ Stag Card information quickly. However, problems soon arose.

“They worked fine at [unregistered] townhouse parties,” said Cantrell. “The problem was that it is a bit more labor intensive to get the information from the palm pilot to a report than we had wanted.”

Cantrell said that in order to get the information from the CardVisor to a report, many computer applications are needed and it is not any easier than manually recording names at parties. The software was never broken, although a phone call to the company’s tech support was needed.

“It is great for 100 or 500 names, but a bit labor intensive for 20 names,” said Cantrell.

Just because residence life isn’t using the card readers anymore to record individuals’ information at parties where alcohol is being served doesn’t mean that students are less likely to be caught in violation.

The party policies and student code of conduct is still enforced and the manual recording of students’ StagCards still occurs.

According to Cantrell, a RHC, townhouse manager, or Public Safety officer is typically present at the front and back door of the house in violation as well.

Some students think that Residence Life tried using the StagCard readers with the hope of bringing underage drinking on campus to a halt.

“Residence life can’t stop underage drinking; people are going to drink no matter what,” said Matt Lupo ’06. “I think it was a poor attempt to stop it.”

But Cantrell said that residence life originally introduced the readers only to help the department record information. She doesn’t think card readers alone could have a significant impact on underage drinking.

“I would love to be optimistic and think that one card reader could deter underage drinking, but the reality is that the issues surrounding underage drinking at college are a bit more complicated to address than a card reader could accomplish,” said Cantrell.

Townhouse Manager Katie Doherty ’05 agreed and said that residence life didn’t want to scare students by introducing the idea of StagCard readers.

They simply wanted to push townhouse and apartment residents to register their parties. If parties are registered, there will be fewer incidents of underage drinking and violations.

“By registering a party, it enforces the idea that underage students shouldn’t be drinking because they won’t have the required wrist band and therefore won’t be served,” said Doherty.

Residence life says the money they spent on the readers will not go to waste. Because the card readers can run between $300 and $500, depending on portability and function, the department carefully decided which devices to purchase.

What seems like a splurge of close to $400 was in fact the least amount of money the residence life could have spent for two card readers.

“The readers did not work as we had hoped. But we still have them and are using them for other things in our office such as summer conferences,” said Cantrell.

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