Northern Arizona University are set to start using RFID tags to monitor the attendance of its students. Students are protesting the use of RFID tags, which are embedded in their student IDs.
A university spokesman told Government Technology magazine that the intent is to encourage professors to incorporate attendance into grading systems. More frequent attendance leads to higher grades, the university says. The system, purchased with $85,000 in federal stimulus funds, would start this fall.
The idea is to install card readers in all classrooms that seat 50 or more students — those in which it’d be difficult or time-consuming to take attendance every day. Professors who teach smaller classes would have to find another way to take attendance. Given that class sizes shrink as a student’s education progresses, the policy would likely impact freshmen and sophomores.
Students wouldn’t have to take their ID cards out, because the readers would be sensitive enough to pick up signals from anywhere in the room. Data from each class would be recorded, and instructors would get reports on who was in class
Obviously, the university believes that students won’t forget or lose their IDs on a regular basis. A student could also scan their card, put in a non-readable wallet, and leave class. They also haven’t taken into account that, because they don’t even need to take the ID out of their pocket, that someone else could simply take the card to class for them. If the classroom has more than 50 students, it will be extremely difficult to determine if Jimmy brought Tina’s card with him or not.
Although some students might try to subvert the system by having a friend carry his or her card, the cards are also used to pay for food and gain entry to the dorms, the Republic reports. So it’s probably not worth trading with a friend.
The university believes that this would prevent trading of cards, however, if Jimmy takes Tina’s card to class, Tina only needs to meet him outside her dorm or other designated area later in the day. It still doesn’t solve the problem of attendance. There is also the given fact that these students are over 18 and, thus, are adults. They are paying for the classes and the university is getting the money. Why are they being treated like two year olds? If you are in college, you should no longer need a babysitter.
Not everyone needs to be in class every single day to obtain the knowledge needed to pass the class. Making attendance a part of the grade is merely a GPA booster and does little to actually help someone gain further knowledge in a class. You get out of class what you put into it. Sometimes people have to put in more effort, sometimes they don’t. College students are adults. They should be treated as such.
There is also no mention from the university what they will do when individuals show up with card readers and start scanning for the information on the cards and cloning them. Once the dust settles and this system is defeated, as it will be, the money for the system can be put to better use on scholarships.