4 minute read

Maximizing Campus Card Operations with University of Louisiana at Lafayette

3/7/2023 8:00 PM

Kari Foti, Director of the Campus Card Office at University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL), joined the FOCUS podcast to share how their integrated campus ID has combined different departments and uses to enhance their campus experience. From dining services to housing access, declining balance programs, campus vendors and beyond, ULL has been able to get the most out of their student ID with the help of TouchNet’s OneCard and other solutions.

Institution overview

ULL is a public university in Lafayette, Louisiana, with 19,000 students enrolled across 80 majors and 30 graduate programs. The institution recently earned a Carnegie R1 designation, ranking them in the top three percent of research universities in the country. With the 2022 fall freshman class being their largest, ULL is looking towards the future of post-pandemic levels and the economic opportunities that follow.

Foti’s position at ULL allowed her to take part in the opportunity to expand their robust campus card, known as the Cajun Card. Their student ID works with identification credentials, dining services, parking and dorm access, the classroom and library, athletic events, and other campus vendors. With this high level of integration, ULL also needed to have the right back-end support to keep the Cajun Card running smoothly.

Finding the right management

Foti thinks of the card office as the hub of campus services managed through the Cajun Card. They are able to connect to all areas of campus and build relationships and integrations with different departments. Any software that various departments use to manage their services taps into the campus ID through the card office and vice versa. While all of these departments work independently, everything is still able to run on the same card.

For the Cajun Card to hold such important cross-departmental credentials and financial information, security is a top priority. ULL partnered with their IT department in combination with OneCard to centralize access management. Access still funnels through the card office, who verify and print ID cards, but IT security is responsible for setting permissions. The card office handles temporary access through the Cajun Card for special circumstances like student workers on game days, dorms, and other campus facilities.

Cajun Card functions

Overall, the Cajun Card has helped ULL reduce their cash intake, and therefore their audit risk, with the addition of Cajun Cash being integrated onto the campus ID. Students can pay with Cajun Cash at different campus vendors, on game days, at non-dining hall food services, for overdue library book fees, or even to pay for materials in the 3D printing lab.

ULL’s student ID is integrated with almost every department on campus. Dining services are the main use of the card and students are able to add funds and meal plans through the dining office. The ID cards also keep transaction reports to help dining services with their internal reporting. Sodexo, ULL’s campus dining services client, has expanded into food trucks and accepts Cajun Cash. Recently, the university is working with Sodexo and TouchNet to create online ordering for the cafeteria for students. Students can also use their Cajun Cash on their IDs at different campus vendors to buy food items.

Declining balances have also been made easier with the Cajun Card. When a student goes to the dining hall and their card is swiped, the transaction is programmed to first run the meal plan, then it goes to declining balance and Cajun Cash last. The card office does not take declining balance payments, instead students can check their balances online and make payments there or with food services.

The Cajun Card also allows professors to pull data on what students are using on-campus resources for check-in purposes. ULL’s recreation center uses their own software, but pulls information from the card to manage access levels for students. StarRez, the app used for the dorms, is integrated with the IDs for student access and other services. The Cajun Card and Cajun Cash can also be used on game days at concessions and other event vendors.

COVID innovation

Before the pandemic began in 2020, Foti and her team spent six months integrating My Photo with the Cajun Card. This meant that students could upload their own photo to be used for their ID when the university wasn’t able to have large orientation groups take ID photos on campus. In fact, around 60-75% of incoming students used My Photo, cutting down lines and potential exposures. Once students upload their photo, the card office could load it with all their other information and mail it out. Foti believes that the addition has more than paid for itself during the pandemic.

Room for growth

While ULL’s Cajun Card is a success, Foti still sees opportunities to enhance the card further. She wants to see digital IDs that students can access from their mobile devices. As well, Foti is looking at student organizations to start using the Cajun Card for their various activities and events.

“Getting more student organizations involved with using it. With all the Greek life there's so much opportunity there, you know they're trying to fundraise… When they have events if they don't want to take cash, then they can use Cajun Cash, or even if it was for within the sorority or fraternity. It’s just kind of getting the word out and expanding to let all of them know that there might be a solution to an existing problem that they have,” says Foti.

ULL is hoping to use the Cajun Card to get more data engagement from different departments. They are still working on streamlining the data received from the card to map out the student journey from start to finish. This key data will also be able to fill gaps in other processes and act as a source of truth for the university.

Final advice

Foti’s words of wisdom for other card offices looking to fully integrate their student IDs is to make it convenient. Look for the areas where people are having problems and try to find a solution for them that can help other departments with their issues. Work with all departments from a technical standpoint so the cards can be maximized for the most efficient usage.