In a joint statement, members from both the Offices of Student Financial Aid and Card Services announced that students in the fall 2016 semester will be charged for every swipe of their student IDs.
This new policy, nicknamed “Opening Dores,” is a result of years of proposed and failed plans for improving the overall income of the university. While certain money-raising programs were more successful than others, such as one forcing professor Carol Swain to advertise car dealerships on her Facebook page, many proposals were scrapped for being “unmanageable” or “dehumanizing,” according to one former Financial Aid officer who asked to remain anonymous. Certain proponents of the revenue schemes still believed these plans were necessary: “Although the school was getting plenty of money from raising tuition rates, we realized that most of the money was going into artificially lowering the acceptance rate — I mean the scholarship fund. We wanted to make sure there was enough money for everyone on campus, from the lowliest Financial Aid Services officer to each and every Board of Trustees member who supported the plan,” said Financial Aid Services officer and Opening Dores head coordinator Cathy Lee Smith.
Smith’s moment of realization came after seeing a student struggle to get into their dorm room without their student ID. It was then that she realized that most students would pay any amount of money for basic human rights such as room, board, and food. “It was as if students were desperate to be treated like real people. Isn’t it funny when those privileged little guinea pigs think they have power?” said Smith.
Under Opening Dores, all entrances across Vanderbilt will be outfitted with AI card sensors, from shower curtains and cafeteria openings to restrooms and closet doors. While dumpster and closet doors will cost only $3 per swipe, restroom entrances will cost upwards of $10 depending on AI-determined level of necessity. According to Smith, “Each AI restroom sensor can detect how much any individual may need to enter a bathroom. From there, an algorithm that correlates a ‘desperation index’ to Commodore Cash balance. It’s also real fun to go into the surveillance room and watch these greedy students try and beg their way into the john.”
While the program will be introduced to the entire student body next semester, a select group of students have already been integrated into the program. According to one test test subject, “I only learned I was in this stupid program after I was locked out of Branscomb due to ‘low Commodore Cash balance.’ I guess it would’ve been okay if it weren’t for the fact that I’m here on a full-ride.”
Still, experts on Opening Dores have stated that AI censors will not discriminate on the basis of income. “We wouldn’t want to encourage criticism from students of wealthy families; these students are the donors of the future,” said Smith.
While numerous student groups had already planned protests against Opening Dores, most events were cancelled after AIs were programmed to charge higher rates for students caught protesting by surveillance and VUPD body cameras. Even though university officials welcome “all forms of student discourse, the AIs are less friendly to disagreement,” said Smith.
While students are currently the only Vanderbilt community members affected by the policy, Smith has stated that Opening Dores may affect janitorial and non-tenured staff in the future, “You know, we’ve all worked so hard to help these students, it really is their turn to give back. I mean, do they think a school like Vanderbilt’s made of money?” asked Smith.