University holds onto landlines in residence halls

By Gus Bode

The wireless world is advancing.

With most new students moving to college with cell phones already in hand, many universities are considering ridding their residence halls of landlines.

For some universities, the change has already taken place.

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“The students weren’t using them,” said Scott Kackmarik, associate director of residence life and housing at the University of Notre Dame, which made landlines optional in the residence halls in fall 2006 after several surveys showed few students used their landline phones. “I believe 18 students have opted for service.”

Julie Payne Kirchmeier, SIUC’s director of university housing, said a spring 2007 study showed SIUC students made less than 30 calls each on their landlines all year. Kirchmeier said cell phone usage has increased significantly in the past few years, but the university isn’t ready to make the move to wireless quite yet.

“We’re still in the conversation phase right now,” Kirchmeier said. “We definitely want to involve the students in this decision.”

Garrick Piche, a freshman from Harrisburg studying engineering, said he rarely uses his landline inside his Pierce Hall dormitory, if at all.

“I have my cell phone on me all the time,” Piche said.

Taking out the landline service could also help the school financially. Students at Notre Dame received free cable TV after the ridding of landlines.

“Right now, students pay extra for Internet service,” Kirchmeier said.

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Kirchmeier said she hopes a drop of landline service would make it possible for cheaper Internet access for students, but no plans have been made yet.

“Obviously, a lot of options are on the table,” she said of the possible financial advantages.

Even though SIUC students rarely use their landline phones, all rooms have the service.

“I figure it’s only there if the university needs to contact you,” said Jeffrey Cap, a sophomore from Oak Park studying computer science.

Cap, a resident of Mae Smith, said he rarely uses his landline phone because his cell phone gets great service.

Emily Cartmill, a freshman from Olney studying graphic design, said the only time her landline is used is when university staff calls.

“I don’t even know my landline number,” said Cartmill, a resident of Schneider Hall.

Kirchmeier said though landlines are the primary means of contact for those on campus, there are other ways of reaching students.

“A lot of campuses are going to e-mail as the primary contact,” she said.

Kirchmeier said a move away from landlines would force SIUC to collaborate with mobile service providers, as other universities have done.

Daily Egyptian reporter Madeleine Leroux can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 254 or [email protected]

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