Banner ID brings benefits

It’s standard procedure before taking a college exam, especially in overwhelmingly large LER classes – the professor drones, “Bubble in your full name (last name first!) and the last four digits of your Social Security number,” and the entire class obliges without blinking an eye.

Until now, the use of Social Security numbers had been the only surefire way for professors to distinguish their students, the only means to keep track of everyone’s grade without jumbling the Smiths and the Smythes, the Johnsons and the Johnstons. But have you ever thought about what it could mean to your identity to have that precious identification number floating throughout the university?

Last month, an intern for the State of Ohio was fired when a government-issued data storage device was stolen from his car. The device held valuable information about thousands of state employees, including – you guessed it – their Social Security numbers. With that number in their sleazy little hands, talented thieves could, in essence, steal the identities of the people the numbers belong to, doing everything from draining bank accounts to maxing out credit cards.

So when you take into consideration the thousands of people Kent State employs and educates, you’ve got to wonder: Are our identities less important than state employees? They shouldn’t be. We’re “just students,” but we’ve entrusted Kent State with taking care of us for half a decade – it seems the least the university could do is ensure our personal safety.

It’s not that we’re mistrustful of the university or its employees, it’s just that we shouldn’t have to worry about identity fraud in the first place, not at our own school. It’d be pretty dumb for thieves to try impersonating college students – primarily because most of us are flat broke to begin with – but believe it or not, it does happen, and digging yourself out of identity theft is no small feat. As students, we’re paying plenty of money to attend this school, and we don’t need the added burden of hoping no one is out there impersonating us or draining our funds, especially when safer alternatives exist.

That’s why we commend the university for its plan to issue banner identification numbers to each Kent State student – IDs that are completely separate from our Social Security numbers. The system is already in place for university employees, and it’s about time Kent State stepped up to protect its students, too. We deserve the solace of knowing our identities are safe, at least as far as school is concerned. The university will still use our Social Security numbers to keep track of financial aid and on-campus employment, but it’s still a relief to know we won’t have to scribble in our numerical identities on every exam we take and every form we fill out.

It’s going to be a hassle to commit a new number to memory, we don’t deny that. But it’ll be worth every minute of agonizing memorization if it deters the hefty price identity fraud brings.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.