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spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer January 27, 2006
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ID replacement project to protect privacy underway

by Dave Pecora

Dave Pecora
Dave Pecora

Go to just about any administrative office on campus, and you may need to provide some identification. If you need to make an official transaction, such as request a transcript or get your password reset, you certainly will. In many cases, the only ID number you can provide is your social security number. Soon, this will no longer be the case. After May 2006, social security numbers will no longer be used on the RIT campus unless mandated by law.

Use of social security numbers as a general means of identification throughout the university has had its benefits, but these are now outweighed by many other factors. Identity theft, current legislation and overall concerns about privacy in the information age make it imperative to limit the use of social security numbers to cases where it is absolutely necessary.

RIT is responding by creating a new identification number—the RIT University ID. This new number will replace the social security number as the most commonly used unique identifying number for transactions done on campus.
A campus-wide task force is overseeing the project, with all colleges and divisions represented. A full list of representatives is available—along with much more information about the project—at www.rit.edu/ initiatives/sirp.

Implementation of the RIT University ID number will have many implications on campus. Most importantly, many university systems will need to be changed. Almost all of the systems that use social security number as an identifier need to be changed.

The project is massive—over 900 programs supported by ITS alone need to be modified. The changes required to programs managed by colleges and other divisions may well exceed this number.

Everyone will need to get a new RIT ID card. Because the existing ID card uses your social security number, you will need to get a new card. A new photo will not be necessary—the registrar will use existing photos to create the new cards.

University IDs and cards for faculty and staff will be pre-printed by the registrar’s office and will be available for pickup at the registrar’s office starting on May 1. Cards for students registered for summer courses or scheduled to live in RIT housing over the summer will be pre-printed and available for pickup at the registrar’s office starting on May 8. A distribution plan is being developed for students returning in the fall of 2006.

Although the new university card design has not yet been finalized, a few changes have been decided. The new card will have a portrait orientation (as opposed to the existing card’s landscape orientation) to make it easier to hang from lanyards—a practice which has grown in recent years. ID cards for non-exempt employees are an exception to this rule, as a front-displaying bar code is convenient for swiping into the time tracking system.

The new RIT ID cards will become active sometime during the week of May 27—the week immediately following the 2006 commencement ceremony. Due to the nature of the conversion, the old RIT cards will be needed up until that week—use of the new cards will be required starting that week.
A more detailed conversion timeline will be communicated via e-mail and the project Web site at www.rit.edu/its/initiatives/sirp.

There are many individuals and departments that will be touched by this extensive project. Information forums about the transition, new cards, and to answer other questions will be held in the spring of 2006. Students, alumni, faculty, staff and anyone with an RIT ID card can attend. The forums will contain information on how to obtain a new card and what to do if you lose your card, and answer general questions about the transition to the new University ID number.
Dave Pecora is associate director of ITS Customer Support Services.

This column presents opinions and ideas on issues relevant to higher education. We hope “Viewpoints”inspires discussion among the RIT community. To suggest an idea for the column, e-mail newsevents@rit.edu.

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