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Gyms to install hand scanners for student entry

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Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008 12:00 am

UF Students have mixed reviews for technology that will soon require them to scan their hands before entering campus gyms.

David Bowles, director of Recreational Sports at UF, said installing hand scanners in campus gyms will eliminate the need for students to bring their Gator 1 Cards along for their workouts.

David Stopka, UF's associate director for facility operations, said the scanning system will cost between $35,000 and $50,000 at each fitness location.

Stopka said he's not sure yet where the money will come from, but UF may decide to delay resurfacing some tennis courts in order to cover the cost of the scanners.

The scanners will be installed in the lobby of the Student Recreation and Fitness Center in September, Bowles said.

Students will be required to scan their hands in order to gain access to the rest of the building and will have to enter their UFID numbers as well, he said.

There are plans to install the scanners at Southwest Recreation Center, but that could be postponed until spring 2011 because of the gym's renovations, he said.

Kiranmai Durvasula, a UF chemical engineering PhD student, said she thinks the scanners are a waste of money.

"It's not like there isn't enough man power to just check the IDs," Durvasula said.

Christina Colletti, a UF anthropology and Spanish junior, disagreed.

"That's cool, because if you forget your ID, you're not screwed," Colletti said.

Bowles said in addition to convenience, the scanners will prevent non-students from entering the gyms.

Matt Allen, a UF freshman, who said he got into a gym without an ID on Wednesday, said the scanners could help keep non-students out of the gyms.

The plan is also "kinda creepy," Allen added.

The software will include updated technology that can differentiate between current and former students, he said.

Initially, students will be able to register their hand profiles at the gym, he said. In the future, however, they will have to register at Gator 1 Central in the Reitz Union.

Hand scanners are being used at other universities, such as the University of Georgia and the University of Richmond, Stopka said.

David Looney, UF's assistant director of ID Card Services and Information Technology in the Business Services Division, said the new scanners will measure various aspects of a person's hand, like the width of a finger or the distance between knuckles, but will not take fingerprints.

He said he understands the concerns that students may have about the new technology.

"One of the biggest concerns is people get a fear of 'Big Brother' watching," he said.

Welcome to the discussion.