A Very Frustrated Obituary For My ID-Card
By Siddharth (UG '24)
My ID card is like a boomerang: I lose it and it comes swinging back to me in the pockets of my pants, two weeks later. This is a predetermined pattern at this point and I couldn’t care less. Usually, I’d just sign into the digitized system to enter and exit campus and rely on the altruism of my friends for mess meals for those two weeks. But the last time my card disappeared for a week, Ashoka decided to get naughty and fortify itself as a prison.
For those of you who stuff your cards into your phone covers and weren’t affected– on 2nd March, the Dean of Student Affairs emailed the student body, letting them know that students must carry their ID cards around at all times. Any other forms of identification (including manual entry of the Ashoka ID number or email address) were deemed invalid and couldn’t be used to sign in and out of campus and different Resident Halls.
On the day before my flight back home for the mid-sem break, my card went missing. The finance department- the ones in charge of payments (by which they mean cash only, Ashoka has decided to eliminate every digital medium alongside the digital sign-in system)- was shut for the day by the time I made my way to the office in the evening. Thankfully, the warden picked up my call and let me know that I could pick it up later in the night (we’re best friends now and he even had my contact saved, with CADI victim typed out next to it, I’m sure. Prison… fortify… remember?).
Long story short- I paid Rs 600, had myself a shiny new card printed, and went home. Back home, I watched with glee as twitter went ablaze with students protesting this decision; it felt like a mass funeral for my Rs 600.
After emails sent to the dean, appeals to the warden and reprimanding myself for not changing my AMS picture in the short window I had, we’re still here- still in jail and still clinging to palm sized pieces of plastic.
Let’s break it down.
The fee for making a new card is not a small amount. Rs 600 seems like a huge price to pay for losing a card which has a digital substitute–- it seems like a punishment (one that will seem amplified for students with different budgets). And there’s no escaping punishment; no payment means you stay locked in.
The one false idea floating around that I do think is an unfair argument is that the ID card takes weeks to be prepared. While the sticker with your picture does take a few days to be ready, the HID enabled card is given immediately after the payment is made.
Regardless, I don't care which Jindal-boy-staying-over-at-RH4 rumor you’ve heard, signing in digitally seems as fool proof, if not more, as signing in with your card. When asked to reconsider, the reply has been that this is a “resolution to minimize risks that have come to light recently including the privacy and safety of your peers.”
I think this is a perfectly valid response… IF YOU CAN TELL ME WHAT THE RISK IS?? Telling me that there is a threat without telling me what the threat is seems quite futile. It can go either of two ways- we either take it for face value and panic, or we dismiss it as just another false maneuver in an attempt to elicit obedience. And considering how the admin- student relationship seems to be panning out, the latter seems to be the reaction to the new threat entering Ashokan gates.
The most plausible theory to me is that the new requirement was installed to prepare us for the next bee attack where the plastic cards can be used as shields.
The point I’m making is that Ashoka seems to be getting too comfortable with taking things away as a response to problems- too much partying and the SR gets shut, too many typhoid cases and water coolers are locked away. The worst part is that these connections are being crafted through speculative conversations with classmates or unofficial confessions and satire social media pages. I’ve managed thus far by deluding myself with probable answers to things happening around me. Putting two and two together with regard to admin policies seems to be a series of never ending puzzles and only when we’re spoonfed reasons with absolute transparency is when we will realize how many fantastical answers we have been satisfied deluding ourselves with.