What does it take to steal someone’s identity on campus? For some, it can be as simple as a pair of scissors, tape, and a photocopy machine. Students on campus have figured out a way to trick security systems by copying the barcodes on Belmont ID cards.
Though campus officials take counterfeit Belmont ID cards very seriously, the reality is no one can measure the size of the problem because there is no official data.
“We only have data for those actually caught,” said Maria Allen, coordinator of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity. “Those numbers are skewed based on those found guilty.”
Even though there are no official statistics, many Hillside and Commons residents said in interviews that they have heard of someone who has a fake Belmont ID or someone who makes them.
The fake ID cards don’t give access to the Caf or food from the Curb Cafe, but they do open gates to Hillside and the Commons and give you access to the Beaman gym.
Reasons students gave for having such cards vary from “losing my real one too many times” to “my friends off campus needed a way to visit me and I’m too lazy to walk to the gate”—and the list continues.
One campus resident said he made four copies of his ID and gave them to his Vanderbilt friends.
“We all go to the Beaman and play racquetball together,” he said.
He says he doesn’t think it’s a big deal because it’s his identity his friends are using.
“I don’t worry about getting caught,” he said. “Most of my friends actually look like me. Everyone does it and no one talks about it in public because it’s not a big deal.”
Hillside resident director Chris Agans was surprised when asked if he knew about the underground trend. “Since I’m an authority figure, I’m sure I’d be the last to know anything,” he said.
Agans said calling the clubhouse from the gates is just as easy as making a fake card to gain access to Hillside and encourages students to take that option, which doesn’t violate student conduct policies. Agans said the procedure is simply to “dial 006 and it will call to the clubhouse and the RA in the clubhouse will hit 9 to give access.”
He says there is no excuse for breaking school regulations on any level.
“In a sense, the ID card is like a key,” Agans said. “The access on the ID card is something you are issued. Misuse of that is like misuse of a university key, so if [a student is] caught, disciplinary action will be taken.”
According to the Bruin Guide, consequences for using fake IDs are handled on a case-by-case basis, factoring in when, where, and how the card was used.
Allen said the expectation is high for Belmont students to follow University policies.
“We ask students to not only follow the community code of conduct, which are minimal rules, but also the community commitment which are the higher expectations of personal integrity we want students to internalize,” she said.
Cases are handled individually because the student judicial system looks at the overall picture of how the action affects the campus.
“We look at the effects on the campus should it endanger safety educational sanctions but sometimes sanctions that protect the campus,” Allen said. “The philosophy is to educate people but the commitment is great. Should we need to render additional disciplinary action we will.”
Knowing about possible suspension doesn’t seem to bother a group of Hillside residents, all of whom said they have had an ID copy during some point in their time at Belmont. One senior spoke out for the group, “If they [Campus Security] wanted to do something about it, they would’ve done it already.”
When contacted about the IDs, Eric Simpson, of the Office of Campus Security, declined to comment.