While other universities are beginning to ditch dormitory landline telephones, Virginia Tech stands against the norm, pledging not to get rid of these phones anytime soon.
“What’s the real problem leaving them there?” asked Jeff Kidd, public relations manager for Tech’s Communication Network Services.
And though there might not be a real issue with leaving the phones in the on-campus dormitories, it is also true that that the application and utilization of the phones themselves continues to decline.
“Based on a meeting with the student advisory Residence Hall Federation, the students indicated that they don’t use dorm phones,” said Michelle Czamanske, assignments coordinator for Tech’s Student Program Administration.
According to Kenneth Belcher, associate director for occupancy management, the decline is a result of increased cell phone use, and other communication protocols.
Kidd said that even though the number of students using mobile telephone services exceeds approximately 90 percent at many schools, he believes in the need to keep Tech’s specialized telephone system.
“The basis for deciding to remove dorm phones depends very much on the set of circumstances for each university,” Kidd said, noting that CNS saw specific benefits in keeping the current system in place.
Some of these benefits over cell phones include saving users money on local calls, consistent signal strength, voicemail and integration of the dorm numbers into local 911 emergency grids.
One occurrence that many members of the Tech community remember is the phone service that erupted during the events of April 16, 2007.
Popular cellular phone services, such as Verizon and AT&T suddenly went out of service. Virtually no calls could be placed out that day from the Tech campus.
Dorm landline phones were a savior that day, Kidd said, since they remained the only stable communication link between students and worried family members.
“4/16 has been a game changer for us,” said Kidd. “Other universities have since been looking to us from then on. If anybody should respond to this in the best possible way it should be Virginia Tech, so in that way we kind of have to be the benchmark.
“You can rest assured that anything that has to do with safety is right at the top of the list,” he said.
However, the current phone system is constantly being reevaluated.
“The university constantly evaluates emerging communication technologies to ensure students, faculty, staff and visitors have access to appropriate safety-related communication services,” Kidd said.
Stressing that there would be no benefit in removing the phones from dorms, Kidd said landlines remain an essential part in every on-campus dorm room.
Whether or not the landlines will be used, of course, still remains up to individual students.