ID stickers scrapped for safety

Stickers no bigger than a thumbnail have become the focus of a new University security policy — and they’re also raising a slew of questions.

In a move intended to enhance workplace safety and campus security, the University will no longer use the colorful stickers placed on Yale ID cards to show they are valid, the University announced last week, leaving students with IDs that appear to have expired in December 2009.

IDs will no longer feature validity stickers that must be changed each semester.
Eva Galvan
IDs will no longer feature validity stickers that must be changed each semester.

The stickers used to allow security guards and other staff to check visually whether cardholders were currently enrolled or employed at Yale. Now, ID holders will have to present their cards for electronic scanning when they need to gain entry to a University facility — such as the Peabody Museum, the Sterling Memorial Library stacks or Payne-Whitney gymnasium — or otherwise present their IDs. Though some students fear they will be turned away if they use seemingly outdated IDs to receive student discounts at movie theaters or retailers, administrators as of yet have no plans to address these concerns by replacing existing IDs, Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle said.

Administrators and campus security directors agreed this fall to jettison the stickers, which were previously distributed to faculty and staff once a year and to students once a semester, Suttle said.

Using stickers as a form of security can present problems, Suttle said, because they can be easily misplaced, transferred from one card to another or issued to people who leave Yale before their stickers expire.

“We have basically waited until we had the technology and the infrastructure to be able to convert to electronic access for all the cards,” he added.

By replacing visual checks with electronic scans, the University will be able to check every cardholder’s enrollment or employment status against a central database, eliminating security concerns, Suttle said. The University began installing new electronic scanners at the entrances to the stacks, various athletic facilities and the Peabody over the winter break, he said. Security guards in some buildings will now carry handheld scanners, and University libraries’ computer systems have been upgraded to recognize cardholders’ statuses at Yale.

Scanners will be distributed only to places where limiting access is “critical,” Suttle said, leaving out places such as the Yale Shuttles, where Suttle said installing a scanner would be “impractical.”

“There could be a student who graduated and still wants to sneak onto the shuttle bus,” Suttle said. “We’re not too worried about that.”

The cost of the new technology was “relatively small,” Suttle said, though he said he did not know the exact amount. He added that the money saved by not printing the stickers is insignificant and therefore did not affect the decision.

But the real cost of the new policy may weigh on students, faculty and staff who will now carry IDs that appear to be expired or void.

New IDs will no longer bear stickers, but Yalies who already have IDs can either remove or keep their current stickers, according to a statement released Jan. 5 by Suttle, Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith and Student Financial Aid Services Executive Director Victor Stein. As Suttle, Highsmith and Stein put it, the old stickers “will no longer bear any significance.” The ID Center will continue to use IDs that provide a space for stickers until they run out, at which point the center will begin to use a newly redesigned ID.

Three students interviewed said they were concerned their IDs would no longer be accepted by retailers, museums, theaters or other merchants that offer student discounts.

“Having an outdated ID is just the worst idea ever,” Erica Rothman ’12 said. “If they want a student ID for a discount, they’re going to look at it and think it’s expired. So it works in the Yale world for security, but outside it seems like it’s going to be very ineffective.”

Suttle acknowledged that administrators had not considered how the cards might be used away from campus. But he said the Yale Bookstore, at least, has agreed to accept even IDs that appear to be expired.

Though the security committee considered issuing new IDs across the University, the cost and effort involved would be too great, Suttle said.

“It would be nice to have new IDs, but imagine sending everybody in to get them,” agreed Elizabeth Deerhake ’12.

The measure is the latest of several security changes made since the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13 in September, though Suttle said administrators intended the removal of ID stickers to improve security in general, not to respond directly to Le’s death. In October, the University revised its workplace security policy, which now delineates unacceptable workplace behavior, such as verbal or physical abuse, and requires employees to report threatening behavior to supervisors or authorities.


  • ’10

    We use student IDs for far more than checking out books. This policy changed is incredibly shortsighted. I am glad that any ID will still work within the confines of the university after their decision, but for anything outside of Yale our choices are now “VOID” or an expired date.

    If stickers aren’t expensive enough to affect the decision, why not prevent problems and distribute a new non-limited sticker that says “grad” or “undergrad” or simply a bulldog or something?

  • grad student

    We have to submit copies of IDs when renewing our memberships in scholarly societies, and I suspect that they, too, will look at them as expired. Come on, Yale, a better solution here?

  • question.

    So, it is more secure to have a scanner instead of a human check a card?

    What if someone has their card stolen, wallet grabbed, or lost somewhere? Whoever ends up with the card would have access to areas without any visual confirmation. This seems LESS secure, but I guess cutting personnel is cheaper for university than actually working to make Yale more secure….

  • BDT

    So you’re going to have to scan your ID card to go work out now?

  • grad12

    If the cost isn’t too burdensome, why not have both an expiration sticker and a swipe? My undergrad institution printed an expiration date on the IDs, and the IDs had to be swiped before entering the gym, to get into the dorm, etc. It’s not like stickers and swipes are mutually exclusive systems!

    Distributing new IDs isn’t that terrible of a task – you print them up for everyone, link the new and the old in the system, and have a few distribution days where everyone is expected to drop by somewhere on campus (say, Commons) between 9 am and 9 pm to pick up their new ID. IDs can be picked up at tables labeled by letters of the alphabet. Hand over the old ID, pick up the new ID, walk out the door. Deactivate the old IDs a few days later, and let stragglers pick them up from an office somewhere. I’ve watched this happen for 40,000+ students, faculty, and staff – surely Yale could pull it off.

  • @

    Yale should issue generic stickers so our IDs do not appear void. It’s a shame that administrators at such a great institution come up with such moronic solutions.

  • anon

    What is the difference between presenting the ID for scanning and presenting the ID?

    “Now, ID holders will have to present their cards for electronic scanning when they need to gain entry to a University facility — such as the Peabody Museum, the Sterling Memorial Library stacks or Payne-Whitney gymnasium — or otherwise present their IDs.”

  • ght

    Maybe we shouldn’t show a students ID with thier picture and information on it. There’s a nice start for security.

  • Anonymous

    The medical school printed “Certification of Registration” forms on watermarked paper so that students can use IDs for discounts – but there is no way I can be expected to carry this piece of paper with me everywhere I go. I am disappointed but hardly surprised by this poorly thought out decision. Come on.