A new Yale College Council proposal would give students their own cell phones under a campus-wide cell phone plan, and could usher in the phasing out of dorm room telephones if the plan is approved by University procurement officials.
Council members proposed the development of a student cell phone plan to University procurement officials at a meeting late last week. The student plan would be similar to the $25-per-month unlimited minutes program currently offered to University employees, YCC Treasurer Andrew Schram ’06 said. Under the plan, the University would supply students with cell phones, replacing dorm room phones, Schram said.
Procurement office Executive Director John Mayes said the University has not yet seen enough data to evaluate the benefits of the YCC’s proposal.
But Schram said the plan will benefit the University as well as students, since the procurement office buys most goods and services in bulk.
“It would obviously benefit students because it’s a really cheap cell phone plan, but it would drive down the cost of the University’s plan as well,” he said. “The price goes down throughout the year as more people join the plan. The only cost to the University would be administering it.”
If the University approves the pilot program for this coming fall, the YCC will further push to phase out land line phones in favor of a campus-wide cell phone program, Schram said. He said the costs of calling from a land line phone to an out-of-state cell phone outweigh the benefits of the land line system. A plan supporting local cell phones would also simplify the system, though the YCC would not discourage students from keeping their existing cell phones, he said.
YCC Vice President Chance Carlisle ’05 said another motivation for the proposal was aiding international students, who often have difficulty buying cell phones in the U.S. due to a lack of credit history.
Some international students said the ease of cell phone purchase would be welcome news, and the loss of land lines would be manageable.
“If the rates are cheaper, I’d say go for it,” Diego Rotalde ’05, who hails from Peru, said. “If they could have any additional benefits, like not requiring a credit history or a security deposit, I think that would be amazing for people like me. It makes sense because I certainly can’t find a lot of people who use their land lines. I don’t even know a lot of people who have set up their voicemail.”
But some students said they did not want to part with the utility of free local phone calls offered by the land line system.
“I personally use it sometimes to call local students or to make local calls, because it’s free, so I do think it’s pretty useful,” Jacob Jou ’06 said. “I would probably use the University cell phone program if it was cheaper, but I don’t think getting rid of the land line system is a good idea just yet.”
In response to the procurement office’s request for more evidence supporting the introduction of a student plan, the council plans to gauge student interest in the proposal through a Web site poll this week, Carlisle said.
“We have a lot of good guesses and good assumptions, but we want to have some hard empirical data before we go forward,” Carlisle said. “We need to know what students want in the plan.”
Carlisle said the survey questions will also focus on students’ phone use over the summer to determine whether the plan should be offered on a nine-month basis or a yearly one. If the survey results merit the program’s development, the student plan will be made available in the fall, he said.
Carlisle said the YCC is confident the plan will be approved, but he said student input will be the deciding factor.
“The University is very willing to work with us on this, and they seem very excited about the program, but right now we’re trying to guess,” he said. “The more information and more hard data we have, the better off we’ll be able to offer students the best services.”