Modified Jan. 31.
Residence hall students aired their concerns over AU’s fall 2005 policy that will require students to use cell phones for local and long distance calls at a forum in Letts Hall held by the Resident Hall Association.
“Students stopped using [room phones] a long time ago,” said Julie Weber, executive director of Housing and Dining. However, when asked, Weber did not have a report of the numbers of students who use their dorm phones.
Some students who don’t use cell phones or who are Verizon users and receive little to no reception on campus expressed concern about the new policy.
“This is another example of us not getting what we paid for,” said Laura Reznick, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.
Reznick, a Verizon customer, forwards her cell phone calls to her room because of poor reception. She said she uses her room phone daily to talk with friends and keep in touch with her baby-sitting job.
For those without cell phones, courtesy phones will be placed on each floor so students can make local calls. All incoming calls could be directed to the residence hall front desk, where they would then be redirected to the student’s room.
AU approached Verizon to increase its coverage in 2001, but it was not interested in making any deals, Weber said. AU plans to make one final push to appeal to Verizon after taking a campus-wide poll of cell phone users to document its customer base.
Since news about the loss of local calls was announced, there have been 100 complaints and zero compliments, Weber said. However after the forum, some students expressed different opinions.
“I trust in my University that they are looking out for my best interests,” said Jaclyn Pulice, a sophomore in the School of Communication.
Some raised concerns about privacy issues, since students will be required to register their cell phone numbers with the University in case of emergencies. Currently, faculty have access to students’ room numbers, although Weber said it was unclear if faculty would gain access to cell phone numbers with a new plan.
A question was raised if a scholarship could be created for students who could not afford cell phones, but scholarship rules are so strict, said Weber, that such an event would be unlikely.
Several universities are struggling with phone finances as students increasingly use their cell phones and consider using similar measures, Weber said.
For details on the new policy, see the Jan. 24 article “$1 million to be cut in phone costs” in the archives of The Eagle Online.