Cell phones invade campus

Kathleen Dooley

A phenomenon once associated primarily with drug dealing and emergency use in cars, the cell phone has changed from the exception to the norm. Anyone walking around campus can see this quite easily as students leisurely make phone calls or scramble to check messages in between classes.

“The trend has definitely changed in the past few years,” said Bob Mays of the Office of Telecommunications. “Today, cell phones are attached to students’ ears.”

The cell phone boom has had both positive and negative impacts on campus. No longer do students have to run back to their dorm rooms to check messages; they now have instant access to friends and family. However, it is not uncommon for cell phones to ring at inconvenient times, disrupting class, work or even weekly Mass.

“I usually keep the ringer on my cell phone off when I’m in class,” junior Lauren Zuravnsky said. “But the first day of lab, I forgot to turn it off and a friend of mine called earlier than I thought. It kept ringing… but I didn’t answer it.”

Students are also saying that having a cell phone makes it easier to forget about checking on-campus voicemail. “I forget to check my voicemail in my room all the time, but I never forget to check my cell phone messages,” junior Joe Capece said. “The fact is that with such little time spent in my room, most communication occurs on my cell phone. It is just more convenient.”

However, Mays did say that complaints about students not checking on-campus voicemail have been minimal. “Occasionally, we’ll hear that class was canceled and students didn’t check their voicemail, but this doesn’t happen often,” he said.

Mays also stated that the trend of students using cell phones more than their dorm phones is to be expected.

“Common sense tells you that if a student arrives with a cell phone or gets a cell phone while on campus, that they will be using them more because the cell phones will be with them more often,” he said.

The increase in cell phones has impacted student phone bills campus-wide. “The amount of money we bill today is less than the amount we billed three years ago,” Mays said, attributing that decrease to a wider dependence on cell phone plans.

The Office of Telecommunications has not yet changed student service in any way, but Mays said that it is currently in the early stages of discussing modifications.

While no definite plan is set, Mays commented, “cell phones do have an effect on how we do business.”

The trend of cellular phone customers using their cells over landline phones is not restricted to the University. BellSouth telephone company reports that 15 percent of all cell phone users have eliminated landline use at home.

In addition, the market research group Cahners In-Stat Group reports that by 2004, one out of two teens will own a cell phone and three out of four will use one regularly.