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SMC to drop landlines

Amanda Shropshire | Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Students returning to campus next fall will have to find other ways to call family and friends due to a decision that administrators say is an effort to make College spending more efficient – no more landline phones in dorm rooms.

As of June 15, Saint Mary’s will remove all phones from student rooms and will instead offer other phone services to students on campus.

The student body was notified of the changes by e-mail Monday. Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Johnson wrote that the change stems from two years of research, which shows usage of residence hall phones has declined to nearly nothing.

The decline in usage has put a financial drain on Saint Mary’s, and the decision should have minimal impact on students, said Melanie McDonald, director of media relations at the College.

“Saint Mary’s is responding to the behavior of students. Saint Mary’s used to turn a profit on long distance phone calls years ago and now that revenue is like 300,000 dollars every year in the red,” McDonald said. “So that tells you that people aren’t using the phones in their rooms for long distance calls.”

Since students aren’t making those phone calls, she said, there is no revenue.

But the College’s decision isn’t revolutionary, McDonald said. With the increase in cell phone usage, many other colleges and universities – Notre Dame included – have successfully made this change without overly impacting the students.

However, news of the switch generated mixed feelings among students.

Sophomore Katherine Bernest said she uses her room phone everyday to talk to her mother in order to save cell phone minutes.

“I’m against [removing the landlines] but I can understand why the College is doing it,” Bernest said. “However, it will still be an inconvenience.”

For those students without cell phones, the College will keep landline phones on each floor of the residence halls and at the hall front desks.

For those who have cell phones, the removal is less of an issue.

“I’ve never used my landline phone. In fact, when teachers ask for my number, I give them my cell,” junior Jeanie Clement said.

The College will also offer long distance phone cards in the campus bookstore and will work with service providers to ensure excellent reception throughout campus.

For other students with cell phones, the number will be required to be registered with the College.

McDonald said she has not yet received any complaints about the switch and emphasized that the decision was made based on student behavior.

“The impact will be minimal – if it was going to be a big impact that would affect the students negatively then the College wouldn’t make the decision,” McDonald said.