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Administrators support landlines

  • September 29, 2009

Landlines maintain a firm ground on the Biola campus as universities across the country follow the growing trend of taking on campus phones out of dorm rooms.

Iowa State University, University of Kentucky, Penn State, University of Florida, and Santa Clara University have all removed landlines within the last three years. Some colleges are creating cell phone directories, and others, like the University of Maryland, are providing cell phones for select students and staff. Still, other universities like the University of Richmond, Va., have decided to keep landlines for emergency purposes.

Some Biola faculty and students said landlines have advantages they would miss if dorm phones were taken away, and administration has decided to keep them for the time being, despite the trend. Greg Sasis of IT said that, despite the growing number of cell phones in use, which landlines once competed with, dorm phones still serve important purposes.

“We’ve mentioned to the higher-ups that other universities are removing landlines, but the desire is to keep them for now,” Sasis said. “We may revisit the possibility one day.”

International students and students without cell phones use calling cards to make long-distance phone calls, landline signals are often more clear, and, most important of all, landlines are more reliable in emergencies like earthquakes that might cause cell phone towers to go down. Students can dial a simple extension to get hold of Campus Safety, Facilities Services, or any other place on campus.

“If you had a heart attack, called on a cell phone, and fainted before saying where you were, Campus Safety would not know where to find you,” Sasis said. “With landlines, they know exactly where you are.”

Justin Shelby of Campus Safety said landlines are important in widespread emergencies when cell phone systems are overloaded or when towers go down. Landlines, on the other hand, still function during power outages.

The reality is, however, that cell phones are in and landlines are out. Unlike landlines, cell phones are portable, act as mini-phonebooks, provide alternative means of communication like texting and Internet, and say who’s calling. According to Bucknell Magazine, about only 30 percent of students at Bucknell University set up voicemail on their dorm phones. The magazine also wrote that U.S. government data reports 13 percent of households can’t be reached by landline surveys because they don’t have a landline installed. Dorm phones are increasingly becoming mere decorations that no one uses.

“My roommate and I don’t even have our landline phone plugged in our room (which I think is illegal here at Biola),” said junior Lisa Crockett. “We use our cell phones because everyone we know uses their cell phone and no one we know uses their landline. Landlines are pointless if you have a cell phone.”

Some students, however, do not have cell phones. Sophomore Lucas Zepeda and junior Alethia Selby both said they can’t afford cell phones.

“I am the epitome of a poor college kid,” Selby said, “and a cell phone is way out of my budget. So being able to have a landline to use when I need it, via calling card, is nice.”

Zepeda said he wouldn’t mind if Biola got ride of landlines.

“Most of the time I'm with people with cell phones so I don't need my own. I also have a Skype account and use it to call phones when I need to. My main form of communication is usually Facebook though,” Zepeda said.

AS Senator Mark Tomlinson questioned whether keeping the phones would cost students and the university money, but Sasis said the only costs come from repairs and replacements.

“I would ask why we are talking about this if there is no cost benefit” (to removing them), Tomlinson said. “I don’t know of anyone from my dorm or elsewhere who is bothered by the presence of a phone.”

Sophomore Rachel Anderson agreed.

“It’s better to have it than to not have it and need it,” she said.

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