Katie Ross had her wallet and her GWorld card stolen this past summer. When she applied for a new social security card, her fee was waived. She thought GW might extend the same courtesy in replacing her GWorld card, but instead the GWorld card office asked her to pay a $25 fee.
“I thought if I brought in my police report they would sympathize and waive the fee . I thought GW might have some sympathy for my case,” she said.
GWorld cards are issued to students, faculty, staff and contractors. The $25 fee was implemented for lost cards four years ago. In spring 2006, the office began charging the fee for stolen cards as well, said Nancy Haaga, managing director of Campus Support Services.
The GWorld card office replaced 4,500 lost or stolen cards last year and collected about $112,500 in fines, Haaga said.
“The GWorld card replacement fee was established to help defray these costs and act as an incentive for students to safeguard their GWorld card at all times and discourage frivolous and costly card replacement requests,” Haaga wrote in an e-mail.
Haaga said before the fee was implemented the number of replacement cards doled out each year was increasing at “significant rates” until the GWorld card program could no longer cover the cost of replacement cards.
She declined to reveal the cost of replacing a GWorld card, but said some of the expenses involved material-related costs as well as the costs of labor, infrastructure and software license fees.
She also said the $25 fee is consistent with the fee charged by other universities for debit and identification cards and governmental agencies for driver’s licenses and passports.
American, New York and Northwestern universities each charge $15 to replace cards similar to the GWorld card.
Some students who have replaced their cards multiple times think GW should be more lenient when it comes to lost and especially stolen GWorld cards.
“They use the same picture. It’s a piece of 3 inch plastic. I can’t imagine that the process of (making a new card) costs so much money,” said Cameron Tepfer, a sophomore who said he has lost his card five times.
He added that the frequency most students use their cards makes them easy to misplace.
“It’s a really easy thing to lose,” Tepfer said. “You’re whipping it out to go to the gym and to go into your dorm. It’s easy to lose especially because it’s a tiny plastic card.”
Haaga said some individuals have lost their cards more than 20 times, racking up fees of at least $500. This can be deducted directly from the user’s GWorld account.
Junior Ally Nicolosi said she has lost her card at least five times, costing no less than $125. The first time she lost it was in the period between Colonial Inauguration and the start of her freshman year.
She said everyone she knows has lost their card at least once. Nicolosi said she asked a GWorld representative about the actual cost of creating a new card, and she was told that it is much less than $25.
Ross said she thinks not waiving the fee for cards that are reported as stolen to UPD or to another police department may discourage people from reporting their card as stolen, causing a threat to the safety of the dorms.
“Having your card floating around can lead to security issues in the dorms,” she said.
“It’s just a small ID that is very easily misplaced. It can easily fall out of your pocket.
Even though students no longer save any money by reporting a stolen card, Haaga said students should report theft to UPD and suspend lost GWorld cards through the GWorld Web site.
This article appeared in the September 17, 2007 issue of the Hatchet.