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Hokie Passport offered to faculty, staff members

By Netta S. Smith

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 04 - September 14, 1995

Virginia Tech faculty and staff members will soon be able to trade in their old ID's for new photo ID cards. Students already are receiving the redesigned ID's, called Hokie Passports, as are new faculty and staff members. President Paul Torgersen and Vice President Ray Smoot were among the first university employees to receive the new cards.

According to ID manager Julie Wesel, "faculty and staff members have been asking for a picture ID for a long time. The cards will identify the bearer as a faculty or staff member of Virginia Tech, an agency of the commonwealth of Virginia. They'll give faculty and staff members another photo ID card, and will make it easier for them to obtain discounts available to state employees at hotels and other places."

Wesel is working with the Personnel Office to devise a plan for replacing ID's for faculty and staff members who want the new card. "We've just processed 16,000 to 17,000 students ID's, and now we're working on the best way to do 5,000 for thefaculty and staff," Wesel says. The cards will be available at no charge to faculty and staff members.

Each Hokie Passport has a magnetic stripe, used in readers to verify that the card is current and to allow it to be used as a debit card for certain purchases. Vending machines and washers and dryers in dorms are equipped with electronic readers that charge the card holder's pre-deposited account for the purchase amount, then display the balance remaining in the account. More than 2,500 students already have established accounts, which may be used for purchases at the University Bookstore.

Hokie Passport accounts are pre-deposit accounts, not charge accounts. "This means that you can't get overdrawn or go over your limit, because you can only spend money that you've already deposited," Wesel says. The readers are set up to automatically give the balance remaining in the account every time the card is used "It's like having someone automatically balance your checkbook for you." In addition, she says, the card is convenient and provides more security than carrying cash.

Faculty and staff members also may open Hokie Passport debit accounts. Plans are under way to expand acceptance of the card to include lunch at the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center and ticket purchases through UUSA, as well as meals at on-campus fast-food restaurants.

Any faculty or staff member who wants to open a debit account and receive a Hokie Passport may do so from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday in 41 Owens. Faculty and staff members who want the new card but do not want to open a debit account should wait for more information from Personnel about when they can obtain a card.

Obtaining the new card is voluntary for current employees, although all new employees will receive the Hokie Passport.