University adopts single active credential policy with mobile Commodore Card

Students are permitted to have one single credential active at any time.

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Hunter Long

Students can use their iPhone, Android device or physical card to gain access around campus. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Avery Muir, Managing Editor

With the availability of the mobile Commodore Card on both Apple and Android devices this semester, undergraduate students are only permitted to have one single credential active at any time— either their physical Commodore Card, an Android device or combined iPhone and Apple Watch.

Students, faculty and staff who use Android devices can access mobile cards this semester via the GET app on the Google Play Store, according to a Jan. 21 email sent to students. 

It was always the plan to enable a single credential for student safety and security especially in the residence halls,” Manager of Card Services Amy Surprenant said in an email to The Hustler. “We had to wait until the credential was available for Android devices though before we enabled it.” 

Last semester, students said they could use their physical cards in addition to mobile iOS cards to access buildings on campus. Due to the new single active credential policy, some students, including first-year Morgan Cramer, expressed concerns about not being able to access their mobile cards if their device were to run out of power. 

“It’s a little frustrating to not have that backup, if I would still need it,” Cramer said. “If for whatever reason my phone doesn’t work, I can’t go on my phone, remove it from my wallet to then be able to use my card. So knowing I don’t have that backup is frustrating, but I understand where they’re coming from and the sense of security.”

Certain Apple devices, including the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR and more recent models, have an Express Mode capability that allows users to access cards in their Apple Wallet with power reserve for up to five hours after the device runs out of battery. Android devices do not currently have a similar feature allowing students to access their Commodore Card if their phone dies.  

If students have activated their mobile card and wish to re-enable the plastic card, they can do so by marking their card as “found” in the GET app. This will disable the mobile card and allow the plastic card to be reactivated, according to Surprenant.  

Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) first announced the mobile card initiative last September, allowing students to begin using a digital card as a payment method for on and off-campus merchants and to access residential and academic buildings, just as they would the physical Commodore Card. 

All of the Taste of Nashville restaurants have contactless readers so can accept iPhone, Apple Watch, Android and the physical Commodore Card,” Surprenant said. 

Surprenant also noted that the magstripe on the plastic card will still work for MTA buses and vending machines. Surprenant added that the physical Commodore Card must still be used for package pickup at Station B, where the university is working to implement mobile credentials.

As students returned to campus this semester, some said they felt frustrated that the university did not clearly communicate the implementation of the single active credential policy.

“I’m just kind of frustrated that we weren’t really given any notice that only one of them was going to work,” sophomore Abigail Forsythe said. 

Students also noted that having the option to use a mobile card has been convenient. 

“As we transition to using our mobile devices more and more in all aspects of our lives, we are excited to be able to offer all students the opportunity to use their Commodore Card on a smartphone regardless of whether they use Apple or Android,” Surprenant said.