Voice mail system less likely as students turn to cell phones, e-mail

Voice mail system less likely as students turn to cell phones, e-mail

Simpson College students have a reputation of not checking their campus voice mail, not answering their campus phone or simply not even having a land line phone altogether.

Students now have the option to decide whether to keep their campus voice mail or delete their entire account. Students were required to contact information services by Friday, April 3 if they wished to keep their accounts. If they did not, their accounts were deleted.

The changes are part of a new telephone and voice mail system that will be installed May 8, 2009.

These new services were brought about after the fourth floor of Mary Berry was remodeled and additional offices were created.

Due to this restructuring, the college did not have the capacity or enough phone lines between the Mary Berry and McNeill buildings to serve the new space.

“Instead of investing in an 11 year phone system, Simpson chose to invest in newer technology by purchasing a new phone system that can communicate using the college’s extensive fiber optic network,” Charles Thomas, telephone technician for information services, said.

Through this system, Simpson will begin to see changes immediately. For instance, this will reduce the phone system’s maintenance costs by 40 percent. The college will also see gradual changes throughout the coming years.

“In the future, it will allow the college to expand and grow without incurring costs associated with burying copper cable to campus buildings,” Thomas said.

Though costs will be reduced, student and faculty communication may be challenged. Currently on campus, all employees, faculty, and staff use a voice mail system. However, some faculty members utilize other means of communication, like e-mail, instead of the voice mail system.

Tracy Lucht, assistant professor of communication studies, said that although she does use her voice mail system, her primary communication is through e-mail.

“When I need to get a hold of students, I send out an e-mail because I know they usually will respond faster than leaving a voice mail,” Lucht said. “The only time I did have to use the voice mail system was when I had to talk to a student immediately about a presentation the next day.”

In turn, Lucht also said that students have used the voice mail system when they know they are going to miss class and want to avoid an actual interaction with her.

As the majority of her students use cell phones or e-mail as primary communication, Lucht said that communication between students and faculty will remain about the same.

“Students that choose to keep their voice mail systems will have an extra means of communication available to them if they decide to use it,” Lucht said. “I know some professors that use the voice mail system as their only way of communicating with students. If it works for those teachers then they should continue this communication.”

Even though the new voice mail system is being implemented, Lucht said that she would like to see more communication through cell phones.

“Most students have cell phones on campus, so it might be beneficial to get students’ numbers for emergency contact information,” Lucht said. “Cell phones could make contacting students easier than e-mail because faculty members need some sort of reliable way of getting a hold of students.”

Students are also wondering whether the new voice mail system will help improve communication.

Based on a student survey by the Student Government Association in Fall 2009, only 14 percent of Simpson students were using their provided voice mail. The lack of students using this system allowed the college to set up a new voice mail for students only if they request the service.

Freshman Logan Woster said that he does not use his voice mail and does not see a need for a new system.

“Most of the people I know don’t even check their voice mail because their teachers send them an e-mail,” Woster said. “Sometimes even if people use their voice mail, the professors don’t get back to them or check their messages. If both students and faculty aren’t going to use their voice mail, then why have it?”

Even though some students are wondering if this new system is a good idea, Thomas has high hopes for it.

“(This system) will help improve communication between students and faculty here at Simpson,” Thomas said.