What the Orca Can do For You

by Austin Giles

Horizon Reporter

The Orca card is Whatcom Community College’s student ID, and as most know, works as a library card and comes pre-equipped with $15 towards printing and copying fees. But our student ID is capable of a lot more and is soon to meet its full potential. 

The Orca card is now accepted at 20 vending machines around campus, the Orca Bay Café in lower Heiner, the Kulshan Coffee Cart, the Dockside, and the bookstore. The scanners at the copy machines in the library can access your account if you just tap your card against them. The technology that allows you to do so is a smart chip called the Felica Chip.

The technology behind the Orca card is what will push it to become capable of even more. Soon at school events the technology will be established for students to scan their student ID when being admitted so that a record will show which students came to the event. Teachers who require attendance to certain school events in their curriculum would then be able to easily see the students in their classes who attended, said Colleen Hanson, assistant to the VP of Administration.

In the Orca card department they are also starting a program called Bonus Bucks. It would encourage good deeds and hard work by rewarding students with bonus bucks, accessible from their student ID.

“If a student did something wonderful, a teacher would be able to reward them with a couple bucks on their orca card,” said Hanson. Staff and faculty also have their own Orca cards and the technology is under way for faculty to be able to have door access codes on their cards. The code for their cards will be specific to their doors and all they’ll need is their Orca card to get in.

Our student ID also has its own sort of ATM, where students can load money onto their cards and check their account balances. These are called POD’s and they are just for the Orca card.

Another way to deposit money onto your account is from the website that is on the back of every Orca card. From here you can put money onto your card to a specific place such as the Dockside. That selective deposit, where you can make your Orca cash redeemable at one specific location cannot be done from a POD.

Your ID is all you need to check out library books but more is available to students with the Orca card. There are camcorders, digital cameras, projectors, stereos, monitors, VCR’s and camera equipment that you can check out just the same as you’d check out a book. You just need your student ID and it’s yours for three days. If you go downstairs to the student access lab you can even check out a laptop.

            The benefits you receive on campus are well established but the benefits off Whatcom soil are ever-expanding. Most businesses offer student discounts if you show student ID. One for example, right up the street from us, is Park Bowl. They give discounts to students so they can bowl more affordably. Monday through Friday students get in for $2 a game. Avellino’s Coffee has a spot on Railroad Ave and another on Cordata Ave. Every time you show your Orca card they knock off 25 cents from your total. Among others in the vicinity of Whatcom, Avellino’s has expressed interest in accepting Orca card payments. Others include the new Dairy Queen and West Side Pizza. Any business interested in bringing students into their establishments should look at the Orca card as the best way to do so.

Once an outside business accepts the Orca card as payment, a fraction of each purchase goes back to the college. This “kick-back” of fractions of money from each purchase will be collected into a fund that will become a new student scholarship.

Beginning in May, Whatcom will allow businesses within the vicinity of the college to accept the Orca card as payment. Next month will also see the appointment of a new position in the student life department: Student Organizations and Orca Card Manager. This new position will establish new and existing benefits that students receive from their Orca card, including Whatcom’s student ID being accepted off campus.

“That’s one thing we knew would be coming but first we wanted to establish the card with students,” said Hanson. Hanson has been with the Orca card since its conception and the excitement she has for the program pushes its development further.

Ray White, VP for Administrative Services sent Hanson on a trip to a university in Salem five years ago for a conference on their smart card called Blackboard. White has been instrumental in being forward thinking in bringing something to Whatcom that would enhance student life, said Hanson. It took four years to put together a request for a proposal and last summer the new card was introduced to the college.

“There are a lot of capabilities we haven’t tapped. We’re trying to take baby steps instead of giant steps,” said Hanson. Though the process maybe slow, the Orca card has come a long way in one school year and as technology expands and Whatcom needs a smart comprehensive student ID in more areas, the Orca card has the capabilities to meet all needs.


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