Dialing it down: Housing disconnects residence hall landlines

July 24, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- As cellular phones find their way into the pockets of more and more students, Penn State Housing is hanging up the residence hall landlines for good.

Over the past several years more students have come to Penn State with their own cell phones and have relied much less, or not at all, on the phone service in their residence hall rooms.

"Given this trend and the ongoing cost of phone service, Housing and Residence Life decided to install courtesy phones in hallways on each floor of the residence halls," said Conal Carr, housing director at Penn State.

Annually, Penn State paid about $800,000 to keep the landlines in its nearly 50 residence hall buildings active each semester. After researching the use of the phone lines, Housing learned that very few students were using them. Carr said the money saved will be used to upgrade other amenities within student housing.

The market research firm Student Monitor found out that just one in three college students had cell phones in 2000. Five years later, 90 percent of students carried a cell phone. At Penn State, 72 percent of students used their landlines less than 20 times during the 2007-08 school year.

The courtesy phones can be used to make local phones calls, so it will be convenient for ordering a pizza and calling friends in town. Students can call long-distance using a calling card, as well as 911 in the event of an emergency. The room landlines can still be activated by request.

"In a way, it's going back to the way our students' parents had it," Carr said. "Some good ideas come back."

Penn State joins other Big Ten schools in discontinuing landline service. Other schools around the country, including the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska, have also recently eliminated residence hall landlines.

As of mid-summer, the courtesy phones were installed in Pollock and East Halls and are should to be ready in most residence areas by the time students arrive for the fall semester on Aug. 21 to 22.

"We're always trying to be more efficient with resources and maintain quality services for students," Carr said.
 

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Last Updated August 18, 2009