New students go wireless

John Hult

John Hult

All right, students, line up single file. We’re going to do an experiment. Go to class and listen as your professor calls roll and take down some names.

Inevitably, you’ll have jotted down the names of a few students living in the Residence Halls.

Now call Hansen Hall’s front desk and start asking for numbers. Don’t worry, it’s completely legal. Jot the numbers down and dial the numbers with the 688 prefix.

Chances are you’ll end up with a lot of those irritating “This number has been disconnected” messages from the cold telephone operator’s voice.

Over the past several years, wireless phones have become as common in the hands of incoming freshman as slices of pizza. For a long period of time, even students with a wireless phone hooked up the landline in their rooms.

Now it’s just as common to leave the phone jack empty.

According to Pierson Hall Residence Hall Director Dana Northrup, the move from landlines to exclusive wireless use was swift.

“Within 5 years, we’ve probably lost 40-50 percent,” Northup said. “It used to be that we could get anybody by calling the desk.”

The lack of a landline is a headache for RHDs, who call students in emergencies and traditionally have only the land line numbers designated by Swiftel Communications to go on. This year, Northrup decided to collect wireless numbers on a voluntary basis. The wireless numbers are not available at the front desk.

“We just do it for our purposes,” he said. “It’s not for other people. People don’t want their minutes used up.”

The RHDs generally aren’t calling to bust students for anything, either. Sometimes the desk receives flowers or birthday cakes for prodigal freshman and calls them up, only to hear that irritating operator once again.

“We have to leave them notes in the mail so people came come down and get their stuff. It’s not very efficient,” Northrup said.

While the birthday cakes get stale at the front desk, Swiftel Communications ends up with a lighter load. Shannon Garry, marketing manager for Swiftel, has noticed a drop in the number of students hooking up land lines but knows that eventually students want one.

“After you use a wireless phone for awhile, you begin to realize the benefits of the land line phone,” Garry said. “People will always depend on them for comfort and service”

Especially service to 911. Wireless phones are not always reliable. Just ask freshman Casey Larsen, a General Studies major from Colome, SD. Larsen has a wireless, doesn’t have a land line and his roommate doesn’t want one either. He does have problems with service, however.

“It works to a point,” Larsen said. “It’s great if you’re out somewhere, but when the phone lines get busy, it’s hard to get through.”

Reception is a problem, too.

“I usually get reception everywhere, but the in the basement of the student union it doesn’t work very well,” he said.

Love them or leave them, you’d better get used to them.

A few years from now, the Hansen Hall front desk may be one of the only local numbers in the Hall.

#1.886789:2673572918.jpg:cellforweb.jpg:Stacy Bisgard, sophomore, of Pierson Hall talks on her cell phone.: