When incoming students filed into the University Student Center to receive their new GWorld cards last week, they were met with an overwhelmed office and printing delays that sent waiting lines pouring down the hallway for hours.
The line stretched the length of the student center and looped down into the lower level of the first floor where about 70 students waited for up to two hours to be helped with their GWorld cards. More than a dozen students ranging from freshmen to graduates said they visited the GWorld card office up to three times but still ended up waiting for hours to receive their cards, interfering with their orientation events and classes for some graduate students.
Scott Burnotes, the vice president for safety and facilities, said the GWorld card office has seen “historically large” numbers of students simultaneously requesting cards earlier this month with two years of undergraduates stepping onto campus for the first time. He said the office printed more than 3,500 cards during the week of Aug. 16 and more than 3,800 cards last week.
“The GWorld Office team is working extremely hard to get all students and employees the cards they need,” Burnotes said in an email. “We’ve been open weekend days Aug. 21 to 22 and Aug. 28 to 29 to accommodate the higher volume of students. We have been adjusting and refining our internal processes to help reduce wait times.”
Burnotes said the GWorld printers all malfunctioned simultaneously on Aug. 20, causing the office to turn students away to receive cards at a “later date” rather than waiting for them to print. The office has issued anywhere between 550 and 700 cards a day to students, and staff volunteers are aiding GWorld card staff members to lower waiting times, he said.
“Over 600 customers per day means some people will have to wait,” Burnotes said. “We apologize for the wait times and ask for everyone’s patience. Again, please realize that this circumstance is a unique one, we have never had so many people coming back to campus at one time.”
The GWorld card office reposted a job opening on LinkedIn and dcjobs.com for a full-time staff member to work “as soon as possible.” Receiving a card should take five to 10 minutes, but longer lines should be expected at the beginning of the year, according to the GWorld website.
13 students said their orientation and move-in schedules were interrupted because they spent hours waiting in line to receive their GWorld card. Students said they had to leave the line outside the GWorld office multiple times and navigate campus before receiving their card because of scheduling conflicts.
Anu Sawhney, a first-year graduate student studying public policy, said she went to the GWorld card office to retrieve her card and waited in line for about 30 minutes before making it halfway through the line and up the set of stairs on the ground floor. She said she did not receive communication about when or how to pick up her GWorld card, and she assumed she’d pick it up at the GWorld Card Office.
“I just kind of came here after my COVID test I got done yesterday,” she said. “Nobody told me to, but I was like, ‘I think this is the thing I should be doing.’”
Sawhney, who works as a graduate assistant, said she needed her GWorld card to access campus buildings, where she had to attend orientation events. She said she hoped the line would be shorter to attend these activities, but the line spanned about 50 people when she arrived at the office Thursday afternoon.
“To access the campus buildings, I should get my COVID test and then I should get the GWorld card,” she said. “Because obviously, at my undergrad institution, you have to use – especially in COVID times – you have to use your card to access a lot of places.”
Arshiya Khokher, a freshman in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, said she visited the GWorld card office after staff members working at her residence hall’s check-in told her that her ID photo couldn’t be used for “unspecific” reasons. There, she spent two days last week struggling to find time around her orientation events to wait in line at the office.
“It’s definitely been a struggle because for me, I’m an engineering student, and they gave us a schedule that lasted from 8 a.m. to like 11 p.m., so there’s just no time to come here,” she said.
Khokher said her temporary card expired before her second day in line, and she had to ask other students for building access to receive her permanent card. She said she has also paid for her meals out of pocket because her dining dollars are attached to her permanent GWorld card.
“I’ve been paying out of pocket,” she said. “I believe they said there was a way for you to put it on a tab by telling your dorm number, but when you’re rushing through the line, that’s not easy to do.”
Sydney Reed, a second-year law student, stood in line Thursday and said she never received email communication from the University about how to pick up her GWorld card. She said she currently cannot access any buildings on campus, instead asking other students to tap her into on-campus facilities.
“We didn’t get an email,” she said. “We were just told that this is where you come to get the cards. We can’t get into any of our buildings until we have that either.”
Gabriela Castillo, a sophomore majoring in business and political science, said she had issues with her ID photo upon move-in even though she submitted the photo before the deadline. She said she’s also paid out of pocket for her meals without her GWorld card.
“I received a temporary card, and then they told me go to the student center and then you’ll be able to pick up your real card,” she said. “So that’s what I’m here for, and I thought I’d be able to use my temporary card for my meal plans, and it hasn’t worked for me. So this is a real struggle.”