Campus phones now ‘obsolete’

by Ben Frotscher

Students are ignoring on-campus emergency phones, favoring cell phones to call for help, Director of Security Chris Frerichs said.

“The ones in the parking lots aren’t used that much,” Frerichs said. “Cell phones have really become something that most people seem to call us with.”

The phones have been on campus since 1998 when the college completed wiring, but Telephone Technician Charles Thomas said cell phones have left them nearly unused, especially the phones in campus parking lots.

“Cell phones have made them obsolete,” Thomas said. “They do get used, but it is hard to track how often they are used.”

The phones cost $500 to purchase, but the parking lot phones cost an extra $3,000 due to the parking lot pedestals and lights.

There are three blue emergency phones in campus parking lots: Barker lot, Hillman-McNeill lot and the newest one at Colonial-Washington, which was hooked up last week.

Residence halls have emergency phones too.

“All of the residence halls and the apartments have a phone on the outside of one of their entrances in order to call and have somebody let you in, or you can also get ahold of security from those phones,” Frerichs said. “When you go and look at those phones, there’s a way to dial an on-campus number and there’s a way to dial off-campus or emergency numbers.”

Freshman Jamie Smith said the phones, both parking lot and building phones, are good if someone is lost or needs help, but that for the most part, cell phones have replaced them.

“I’ve only seen them used once,” Smith said.

Thomas said another reason the phones aren’t used much is because they can be unreliable.

“That’s the problem with them, they are often unreliable,” Thomas said. “We usually have to replace or repair two or three a year.”

Frerichs said when a call is placed from one of the emergency phones, a caller ID number shows up that allows security to know where the call is being placed.

Despite the fact that the phones aren’t used that much, and the number of students using cell phones continues to rise, Frerichs said the bottom line is that the emergency phones give people a chance to call security in case an emergency does arise.

He added that students should put security’s phone number in their cell phones in case of an emergency.

“We would prefer that students would put a contact number in their cell phone for us, so in case they are in an area where they can’t access a regular landline, they could just call us directly from their cell phone,” Frerichs said. “If it’s an emergency, call 911 first, but if it’s here on campus … we can usually have a little shorter and quicker response time.”

No matter where you are, according to Frerichs, help is only a few minutes away.

“It doesn’t take long at all,” Frerichs said.