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Tuesday, September 7, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 11

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VIP services, security to increase

By Miriam Garcia
Daily Cougar Staff 

Students will have to change their personal identification numbers in the Voice Information Processing telephone enrollment system next semester, which enrollment officials hope will offer more personal security.

UH followed other universities' policy of using students' birth dates as their pre-assigned PINs when VIP was established in 1993, Registrar Mario Lucchesi said.


Students using the Voice Information Processing system can look forward to expanded services and enhanced security next semester, enrollment officials said.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

He said it is necessary to have students change their PINs because, since 1993, the system has become much more interactive, with more opportunity for someone with appropriated information to make changes in a student's records.

"We want to give the person total security," Lucchesi said.

Under the current system, a student enters his or her Social Security number and birth date to access VIP records. From there, students can perform a number of tasks, including adding or dropping courses, obtaining grade information, purchasing parking permits and health insurance and accessing some financial records.

Some students already have self-assigned PINs, required when requesting short-term loans through the system.

Though Lucchesi said he has not received any complaints about the security of the VIP system, the new self-assigned PINs will be more secure.

Most students said they have not encountered security problems with the VIP system, but they also said they could see how obtaining someone else's Social Security number and birth date would not be difficult.

Jesse Campa, a transfer student from Houston Community College, said he likes not having to line up to enroll, but Social Security numbers and other personal information are required for almost every form he has filled out on campus.

"Even when you're trying to get a free T-shirt, they ask for your Social Security number," Campa said.

Lucchesi said students should be aware about providing personal information. And when students are able to choose their own PINs, they should be careful to protect the numbers.

"I keep stressing, with the person able to personalize their own PIN number, they need to make sure they don't write it down or give it to someone," Lucchesi said.

Lucchesi said plans are under way to design a Web page where hundreds of students could enroll at once without getting a busy signal. In the meantime, the suite of services offered through VIP will increase in the Spring.

Associate Registrar Patricia Cavanaugh said students will be able to request graduation applications or transcripts, among other things, by phone next semester.

"Students can start to make more and more business through VIP," Cavanaugh said.

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