Chip shortage results in temporary cards for first-years

The global semiconductor shortage has revealed just how essential the tiny microchips are — they’re hidden in your car, your laptop, your electric toothbrush, and even in your wallet. In fact, behind that sometimes unfortunate photo from freshman year, each Notre Dame student ID contains a microchip.

This semester, first-years and incoming grad students were given temporary IDs, instead of the personalized “Irish 1 Card” because of supply chain issues related to the chip shortage.

According to Michael Hovestol, the program director for the Campus Card Office, personalized student IDs are usually printed on blank cards after incoming students submit their photos.

 This year, the shipment of blank cards did not arrive until after move-in, so the card office borrowed temporary IDs that Residence Life reserves for summer use.

Around six years ago, the Card Office switched from using student IDs with a magnetic stripe to the contactless “Irish 1 Card.” Each Irish 1 Card contains a microchip surrounded by a copper antennae. Before the Card Office prints the student photo and information, Hovestol explained, the blank cards have a picture of the dome and gold-foiled letters reading “University of Notre Dame.”

Residence Life has a temporary ID available for each bed in the residence halls, and those cards took on a new importance this school year.

“Since we had literally no cards that we could provide students, we asked ResLife to borrow those cards,” Hovestol said. 

The temporary cards work at all contactless stations, such as entry into dining halls or dorms. However, the magnetic stripe on the back of the card does not work, so temporary IDs cannot be used at Grubhub kiosks or vending machines.

Tim Sloan, a first-year in O’Neill Family Hall, said he had difficulty ordering food at the kiosks.

“I tried to get food at some place in the LaFortune center, and [the temporary card] just wouldn’t work,” Sloan said. “I was with three other freshmen, and none of theirs did either, so we just had to use a regular debit card.”

The semiconductor shortage began in the second quarter of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, the demand for chips increased drastically, as more people were investing in work-from-home technology and other devices. Automakers began to compete for the limited chip supply, causing a rise in car prices and manufacturing delays.

The shortage caused significant delays in shipments from the Card Office’s manufacturer, ColorID, Hovestol said.

“We ordered [the cards], I think a month or a month and a half before to prevent this, but the delays got worse,” he added.

Last year, the cards were similarly delayed, but they arrived a week before move in. As the shortage is expected to continue into 2023, the Card Office is planning to order the student IDs by January at the latest, Hovestol explained.

Hovestol said that students are no longer receiving any temporary IDs. The Card Office received a shipment of 2,000 cards Aug. 19 and an additional 4,000 cards Aug. 29. 

“In a normal August, we print about 4,500 cards. And so we’re obviously over that threshold where we can cover this whole month and then into the next couple of months as well,” Hovestol said.

Students can now go to Duncan Student Center to pick up their permanent IDs and get their picture retaken, if they wish.

Natalie Sekerak, a first-year in Welsh Family Hall, said it was “a process” to pick up her permanent ID.

“They only gave us specific hours we could come, and they were all during school hours,” Sekerak said. “It was a little difficult to schedule around my classes.”

Sekerak waited in a 30-minute line before receiving her permanent ID.

“When I finally got through the line, it was a pretty quick process,” she said. “I was surprised how fast they printed it.”

As of Tuesday, Aug. 30, less than 500 first-year students did not have a permanent ID, according to Hovestol. This means about 75% of first-years have received their permanent IDs. The Campus Card Office began to reach out to graduate students Wednesday. 

The Campus Card office will be stationed in Duncan Student Center W102B until Sept. 9 for students who still need to pick up their permanent ID.

Katie Muchnick

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Saint Mary’s welcomes class of 2026 to campus

Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in print on Aug. 19.

This semester the Saint Mary’s community will welcome about 400 first-year and 18 transfer students to campus. When classes begin next week, the College will host a total of 1,308 undergraduate students and 105 graduate students. 

There will be a 5% increase in first-year students from 2021, which had 380 students and 14 transfer students.

Saint Mary’s received a total of 2,254 first year applications, with nearly 7% applying as Early Decision. 

Director of admission Sarah Gallagher Dvorak conveyed her pride for her alma mater.

“As an alumna of Saint Mary’s, I couldn’t be more proud to serve as the Director of Admission and to watch the exciting trajectory of the College,” Gallagher Dvorak said. 

Gallagher Dvorak also expressed excitement about the incoming first-year class.

“I am thrilled to welcome such a talented class to campus this fall and to watch them grow and develop these next four years,” she said. “There’s no better time for them to start their journeys at Saint Mary’s. Under the leadership of President Katie Conboy, we have established a Strategic Plan and have renewed our commitment to ‘meeting the needs of the times’ — expanding the boundaries of who we are and imagining in fresh ways who we can be. There is such tremendous momentum and growth at the College, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”

The incoming first-year class possessed an average GPA of 3.85, which remains the same as last year’s class average.

The class of 2026 includes students from 28 of 50 states, with 37% living in state and 63% living out of state. There are also four international students coming from Kenya, Canada, Nigeria and Tanzania. 

 “They come from as far away as Kenya and Nigeria, as far north as Canada, as far west as California, as far south as Texas, all up and down the east coast and all over the Midwest,” Gallagher Dvorak said. 

In addition, Gallagher Dvorak discussed the range of talent of this year’s incoming class.

“They are made up of community volunteers, athletes, leaders, entrepreneurs and founders of their own businesses, creatives, artists and world travelers,” she said. “We have someone ranked twenty-third in the world as an Irish dance soloist and another who is ranked seventh in the nation. We have a junior firefighter and an accomplished ballet dancer. Incredibly impressive!”

Overall, 66% of the class of 2026 were involved in some type of sport in high school and 27% were captains of their teams. 

Additionally, 21% of the class are musicians, 15% were involved in theater, 8% are dancers and 7% were involved in art clubs in high school. 

22% of the class of 2026 are students of color and 26% are first-generation college students. In addition, 29% of students have a legacy connection, meaning that at least one of their close family members went to Saint Mary’s College. 

Gallagher Dvorak spoke on the importance of diversity in Saint Mary’s classrooms.

“All students benefit from the ability to learn from peers who may not think exactly the same and who come from different experiences, cultures and backgrounds,” she said. “Our classrooms are enriched by the diversity of thought our students bring into class discussions. Exposure to diversity is something that benefits all Saint Mary’s students as it forces them to expand their intellectual and personal understanding of the world.”

Gallagher Dvorak finished by discussing her hopes for the incoming class of first-years and transfer students. 

“I wish for our incoming students that they enter this next chapter at Saint Mary’s with an open and curious mind, a willingness to venture outside their comfort zones and that nine months from now, they’ll be looking back on a year filled with personal and intellectual growth, new friends and experiences and lots of fun,” she said.

Meghan Lange

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University hosts Welcome Weekend

More than 2,000 first-year students will descend upon campus to begin their Notre Dame experience this year. The class of 2026, heralded as the most diverse and selective cohort to date, will move into residence halls and acclimate to the campus community around them through Welcome Weekend.

Welcome Weekend, the University’s annual process of orienting first-years, will involve the typical introduction to hall staff and fellow hallmates, connecting with faculty and staff and accessing academic, spiritual and wellness resources. In the days preceding the class of 2026’s first classes, student leaders and volunteers across campus will come together to embrace the new students.

Andrew Whittington, program director for first-year advising in the Center for University Advising, said the weekend serves as a gateway to many of the unique aspects of the Notre Dame experience. 

“Our team of faculty, staff, and students seeks to share and invite students into the unique characteristics of our Catholic, Holy Cross undergraduate experience,” he wrote in an email. 

Emily Orsini, program director for new student engagement and formation, said allowing new students to feel connected and build community were priorities. 

“The most important part of welcoming the class of 2026 is to make sure every new student feels welcome,” Orsini wrote in an email. “We want to make sure we have diverse programming opportunities that students will be able to engage in. We want to create time and space throughout the weekend where new students can form connections with one another to start to build community.”

This year’s Welcome Weekend will feature reimagined aspects, including a scaled-back vision of the Moreau First-Year Experience class kickoff. Orsini said the University will also emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion in its programming during the weekend.

Staff also looked to add flexibility to the experience, developing periods of opt-in programming.

“That allows students to pick their own adventure and do what they need or want during that time. Students will have options to attend programs that campus partners have organized, hang out in the hall, take a nap, unpack, etc. We know how busy this weekend can be and we hope this time will provide students with what they need whether that be rest or participating in an activity,” Orsini said. 

Whittington emphasized that Welcome Weekend is only the beginning of a much longer experience and no student is able to garner a complete sense of belonging in just a few days.

“But, Welcome Weekend’s combination of residential, curricular, and co-curricular engagement serves as an invitation, hopefully, an inspiring and dynamic invitation,” he wrote. “As far as my role goes, I’m in the business of communicating those first truths that each new student belongs here, can grow here, and can do good here.”

Orsini concurred that though the weekend is simply an introduction, it holds a lot of potential. 

“I think it’s a time for students to start to familiarize themselves with the Notre Dame community as well as the resources and academic opportunities that are offered here,” she noted. “We hope Welcome Weekend is a time where students get excited about their time here from both the academic and social engagement perspectives.”

As Welcome Weekend committees arrived in dorms across campus preparing to help move in the class of 2026, Whittington wrote that the weekend provided an opportunity to embrace the incoming class. 

“These new students, your new classmates, had the choice of joining any number of impressive university communities. They chose us. We’re just so darn grateful for that decision and are honored to celebrate them, learn more about them, and invite them to take their place alongside us as members of the Notre Dame family,” he stated. 

A version of this story was published in our Aug. 19 print issue.

Isa Sheikh

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Notre Dame sees increase in selectivity for class of 2026

About 2,053 first-years will arrive on campus this weekend and begin their time at Notre Dame. The class of 2026 followed recent trends, with applications, selectivity and racial diversity all increasing.

The incoming first-years were the first class to be able to have in-person tours and information classes since the pandemic. Director of undergraduate admissions Christy Pratt said this change led to an “explosion of interest” in information sessions and tours, which coincided with another record number of applications.

With 26,508 students applying in 2022 — almost 3,000 more than in 2021 — the acceptance rate continued to fall and the yield rate stayed high. According to new vice president for undergraduate admission Micki Kidder, 3,412 were admitted for an acceptance rate of 12.9% and about 2,050 enrolled for a yield rate of around 60%.

“The students and families were definitely hungry to come back to Notre Dame and to be able to talk to our staff,” Pratt said.

Citing a recent report that 1.3 million students have disappeared from American colleges and universities since the start of the pandemic, Kidder said it is impressive that Notre Dame continues to see increases in applications.

Notre Dame is in its third year of test-optional applications. Kidder said 50% of applicants provided test scores. Sixty-seven percent of admitted students in the class of 2026 had a test score reviewed, according to admissions data obtained by The Observer.

Fifty states and 95 countries are represented in the class of 2026, according to the admissions website. The University also reported 159 members of the incoming class are international students, the highest number ever. 

While domestic students were able to come to campus for information sessions, travel restrictions hindered international students’ ability to come to campus and forced most of their recruitment to take place virtually.

“So I think that that speaks so much to this shared mission in service to something greater than ourselves that young leaders from all across the country and beyond are matriculating here for an excellent undergraduate education,” Kidder said.

The University will see an influx of 192 transfer students, with 95 of those coming from the Gateway program, in which students spend their first year at Holy Cross. Kidder said 95 is a much higher number than usual for the Gateway program.

Kidder said 50% of the freshmen class has received some form of need-based aid. Additionally, 19% of the class are either first-generation college students or on a Pell grant and 19% of freshmen are legacy students, meaning one of their parents attended the University.

Forty percent of the class of 2026 are U.S. students of color or international students, according to Kidder, marking consecutive years of increased ethnic diversity

“[We’re] just really, really excited to welcome in a very inclusive way, the most diverse class that we’ve seen here at Notre Dame,” Kidder said.

As the incoming freshmen acclimate to campus, Pratt said it is important to note that these are students who did not have a typical high school experience.

“These are also students that are similar to all of our other students in that they are going to engage in our communities and be excited to be here and be that force for good,” Pratt said.

Kidder added that she expects the first-year class to engage in the community in a lively manner.

“While they come in as this extraordinarily inclusive class, they’re contributing to the mission-centric conversation in a very lively, rigorous, empathetic, courageous manner, and we could not be more excited to see what they do in conjunction with the entire student body, so we’re thrilled to welcome them this week,” she said.

A version of this story was published in our Aug. 19 issue.

Ryan Peters

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