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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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MSC to swipe IDs to track event attendance

The MSC now asks students to swipe their IDs at MSC programs to better track attendance.
Ryan Trantham, MSC president, said students and guests will now swipe their IDs or driver’s licenses at laptops with USB card readers before on-campus events. Trantham said it is important for students to know that the ID swipe will not be mandatory if a student feels uncomfortable, but said the data obtained will be used responsibly to better the MSC’s programming.
Arianne Couch, director of MSC assessment and finance, said the process is simple. Once a student swipes his or her card, the information is recorded on an Excel spreadsheet. She said it is then uploaded to a software program that can generate intuitive and useful information.
MSC programs are hosted by 16 committees and consist of events such as lecture series, stage productions, movies, concerts, conferences and a variety of other programs.
“Some of these programs better lend themselves to the collection of card swipes of attendees, but the idea is that we are trying to have consistent, reliable data upon which our leaders can make effective decisions,” Trantham said.
Ian Kettelkamp, nutritional sciences senior and MSC Town Hall chair, said last year Town Hall used the card swipe process at several of its larger events to see how it worked in tracking things such as demographics and whether more students or non-students attended. Kettelkamp said the experiment was a success.
Kettelkamp said the process at Town Hall events has seen few mishaps, but that outdoor events have encountered trouble due to Internet connection problems. Kettelkamp said another issue is getting students to bring their IDs to the events.
“We usually do have more people than the card swipes reflect and that’s just because some people won’t have their ID on them at that point in time,” Kettelkamp said.
Trantham said the data collected will not only assess attendance records but will also generate demographic data about those in attendance, including age, race, college, classification and housing status. A database of this information can help the MSC staff identify groups of students that are missing from these events, Trantham said.
“This data would be helpful for committees to know where to expend the majority of their marketing efforts in order to bolster that audience,” Trantham said.
Some events will require mandatory card swipes, Kettelkamp said.
“It depends on the event,” Kettelkamp said. “For Kevin Hart, one of the stipulations in the contract was that it was a student show and so we made the student IDs mandatory for that, simply so we know we aren’t selling tickets to people who don’t even go to this school.”
Couch said students should know that card swipes will not charge students for anything and the information won’t reveal a student’s name.
“It’s like raising your hand or saying, ‘Here,’ at a meeting,” Couch said. “It’s strictly for attendance purposes.”
Trantham said the MSC hopes the data collection will aid its mission to bring in programs that will enrich the A&M experience.
“My primary goal is that students feel encouraged to attend MSC programs and that these programs are safe places for students to be entertained and to learn in ways that complement their academic growth as students,” Trantham said.

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