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UWRF plans to eliminate most residence hall phones

October 9, 2008

Residence Life, a division of Student Affairs, intends to remove landline telephones from the residence halls to cut costs by fall 2009.

Nearly all UW schools have already removed their landline phones, or intend to do so by 2009. The only exceptions, UW-Stout and UW-Platteville, are also talking about removal, Director of Residence Life Sandra Scott-Duex said.

UWRF’s phone plan will likely be submitted to Interim Chancellor Connie Foster’s leadership team in November.

Residence Life’s plan does not include removing the wiring itself. Therefore, students would still be able to choose whether or not they wanted a phone in their room, but would have to pay the monthly service fee themselves. The plan is not aimed at faculty offices.

“We intend to continue to have land-line phones in staff rooms and one available in each residence hall for local calls,” Scott-Duex said in an e-mail.

Residence Life gathered its information from IT Services phone records and student surveys. Over 93 percent of students surveyed who lived on campus said they used a cell phone as the primary phone in their room. Land-line phone calls at UWRF cost the University about $9 per minute, because so few students are still using those phones and the University pays more than the cost of individual usage, Scott-Duex said.

“Removing these phones would save UWRF approximately $230,000 a year,” she said.

UW-Milwaukee’s Assistant Director of Facilities Management Kenneth Busch said that his university had gone through a similar removal plan in the summer of 2006, and that it had saved UW-Milwaukee a significant amount of money.

“We were paying $18 a month to every suite, and [the land-line phones] weren’t being used,” Busch said in a telephone interview. “By doing [the removal], we were able to save $129,000 a year.”

UW-Milwaukee has also kept a few of the land-line phones in the commons areas for outgoing calls, as UWRF plans to do.

Hathorn Hall Resident Assistant Brittany Johnson said she would not mind the dorm phones being removed, although they are still somewhat useful.

“That’s our first form of communication, just so we don’t run up our cell phone bills,” Johnson said. “And some staff members don’t have cell phones. It’s hard to think, but it’s true…it’s kind of nice to have that line to go to. But it wouldn’t be a huge deal.”

Scott-Duex said she did not think removing the phones would make the RA’s jobs harder and UWRF students should no longer have to pay the cost of the landline phones.

“Room rates never really go down,” Scott-Duex said. “But it’s a contract charge we wouldn’t have to pay…it would help to keep room rate increases to more of a minimum. It allows us to put that money into other things.”

Allison Davitt, a junior majoring in elementary education, said she did not object to the plan and mainly uses her landline phone to play around with one of her friends.

“Me and Kate Dodge pretend they’re walkie-talkies and call each other on them,” Davitt said. “[But] I think that’d be a good way to cut costs.”