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Sunday, Jan 16, 2022

Students ditching land lines for cell phones

Author: Jason F. Siegel

Since the beginning of the academic year, fewer and fewer students have set up their voicemail accounts and are increasingly depending on their cellular phones, a trend that is worrying many College departments who depend on voicemail to communicate important messages.

According to Peggy Fischel, director of Telephone Services, an increasing number of students come to campus already accustomed to the freedom afforded by cell phones, and the fact that the campus has relatively good reception permits them to continue their cell phone habits. As a result, long-distance service provided by the College is no longer as popular as it once was. However, due to the low overhead costs of the service and for the benefit of those students without cell phones, the College "will continue to provide long-distance service to those students who want it," said Fischel.

One office particularly concerned with the recent drop in voicemail usage is the Parton Health Center. According to its director, Terry Jenny, the office has had difficulty reaching students whose voicemail is not set up. When a caller tries to reach an extension with no configured voicemail box, there is no way to verify that he or she has reached the correct extension. In addition, many students report that they simply do not check their voicemail.

Jenny also stated that e-mail was not a viable option for the Health Center, because there is no address for the office as a whole. As a result, e-mail becomes an injustifiably consuming endeavor. In exceptional circumstances, a nurse will use his or her personal e-mail account to reach a student, or failing that, even call the commons dean. "We wouldn't be calling if it weren't acutely important," said Jenny.

To cope with the new habits of students, the College is considering a new system that links e-mail and voicemail. With this system, said Fischel, community members would be able to check all their messages from a single device, be it a computer, a telephone or a cell phone. "Students would not be wedded to a campus telephone to retrieve campus voicemail messages, but faculty, staff and off-campus parties could more easily leave a voicemail message and be reasonably assured that it would be listened to," Fischel said. There are no plans to stop providing telephone services to individual rooms.

Both Fischel and Jenny urged students to activate their voicemail boxes as soon as possible.