Nowak: Library gets tough on Wildcard policy

Erica Nowak

The other day I came to campus without my Wildcard and, unexpectedly, ended up going to the library. I knew that in the past if you didn’t have your Wildcard, you could check in using some other form of identification, such as your Social Security number. Although this was never the preferred way to enter the library, as it was inconvenient for both the library staff as well as the student, without my Wildcard, I was left with this as my only option.

This year, however, I was met with great hostility. The staff member at the door checked for my name on the list and then highlighted it. The man then informed me that I was only allowed “one strike.” The next time I didn’t have my Wildcard I would not be allowed into the library.

Inquisitively, I asked the man why that was the case. He first explained to me that it was to keep those who don’t belong out. So, I explained to him that that was the reason he had the list of students at the door – so he could verify any student without a Wildcard. So, really, his reasoning didn’t cut it. As a result of my response, he then came back with another response. (I guess since the first reason didn’t work, he wanted to feel justified, so he started fishing around for another one.)

His second reason behind the “one-strike” policy was rather ridiculous. The essence of his statement is as follows: to teach students responsibility to have their card with them at all times. OK, so I thought to myself, if someone forgets their Wildcard for the second time, you are going to deny them the ability to learn? You are going to deny them access to a piece of the campus that each student’s tuition money goes to cover? And all to teach students a lesson? Please.

Most students don’t forget their Wildcards on purpose. They don’t leave their dorm rooms and say, “Hey, I’m going to forget my Wildcard just to irritate the library staff.”

Does this also mean that when student workers of the library come in and forget their card, they are going to be denied access? What about a reference librarian? Sorry ma’am, you can’t come to work today, you don’t have your Wildcard. Or even better, a faculty member. Dare I say a member of the administration?

I completely understand the library’s concern with trying to keep the facility accessible to only those who should be permitted such access. However, students should have access to the library, Wildcard or not. I would make the suggestion to the library that they go back to the old way of verification by Social Security number and terminate this “one-strike” policy. It makes me feel like I am back in kindergarten again.