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.

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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 Though some students fear they will be turned away if they use seemingly outdated IDs to receive student discounts at movie theaters or retailers, administrators as of yet have no plans to address these concerns by replacing existing IDs,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.