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Cell phone reception inconsistent

Mandi Stirone | Tuesday, September 11, 2007

After cutting off service to all dorm phones this summer, Saint Mary’s is responding to student complaints that cell phone service is unavailable in their rooms.

Students were required to disclose their cell numbers during room picks last spring, though they could opt out from having their number listed on the directory.

Information Technology has requested student participation in a PRISM survey designed to locate problem areas, said Sandy Handley, telecommunications coordinator.

“At this point, the objective is to define the areas that there are problems in,” she said. “We need to know where the difficulties lie for every carrier. … We are looking at all the options.”

No solution will be attempted until student input arrives, so students are encouraged to participate, she said.

“We understand the difficulties that students are having with [cell phone] service, and we would like to resolve those problems as quickly as possible,” she said.

Students seemed generally receptive to the new policy, though not all reported trouble with their service.

“I get really good service here, actually,” said Megan Griffen, a freshman who uses Verizon.

Still, Griffen said she plans to fill out the survey.

“I get a lot of dropped calls,” said freshman Katie Brown, whose carrier is Sprint Nextel.

Brown said she had not filled out the survey but planned to soon.

Information Technology is also planning to oversee the removal of remaining dorm phones in the near future, she said. While no phones are operational, phone sets remain in rooms in LeMans and McCandless Halls, Handley said. They will be removed around Christmas.

The only phones that will remain in dorms are those located in the hallways for emergency use, she said. At least some students use the hall phones, she said, though she did not know the extent of their use. Staff will also continue to have phones in their offices.

Pauline Kistka, a resident assistant in LeMans hall, said that she has not had any problems with the phone being in the hallway. She has not received any complaints about nighttime calls and several girls in her hall have been using the phone.

She does miss having the landline, though.

“I actually appreciated the room phone,” she said. “It was nice because I didn’t have to use my cell phone.”