HC committee works out details of phone system changes
By biconews On 15 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Matt Sharp

A Haverford committee is currently ironing out the details of a new campus telephone system, which is to be installed in campus dormitories and HCA. The committee, comprised of several members of the faculty and administration as well as two students, has “literally dozens” of decisions to make before plans are final, said Vice President for Finance Dick Wynn.

The committee’s primary purpose is to make a recommendation regarding exactly how service should be conveyed to students. Still, Jesse Ehrenfeld ’00, one of the students on the committee along with Janet Bunde ’02, explained that the greatest uncertainty is “a question of when, not if.” Wynn agreed that “we’re going to go ahead with this.” The committee hopes to have a working system installed by the fall of 2000, but members agreed that this is only a goal and not a guarantee. Among the committee’s largest tasks is to decide what kind of service the college will provide to students.

The college will effectively serve as telephone service provider to all students who use the new system, and so it must determine how to meet students’ needs. Ehrenfeld said one of the most significant questions is what the committee is calling the “per-pillow” issue: whether to run one phone line per room, or a line for each student when two or more students share a room.

Also to be determined are how long distance will be handled, and how students will be billed. Ehrenfeld explained that, since students will no longer need to deal directly with Bell Atlantic, they will be billed by the college. A likely possibility, said Ehrenfeld, is that a fee for local phone service may be added to tuition costs, with long distance billed separately and handled by an outside company.

To help answer these questions and others, the committee recently took a survey of the student body’s opinions regarding phone service. Distributed on the Web and publicized mostly by email, Ehrenfeld said the survey drew around 500 responses.

Bunde said the survey was “extremely helpful in determining some aspects of what the eventual phone network will look like,” particularly, aspects of the system that will affect students directly. Wynn agreed that it is playing a “considerable role in decision-making.” For example, he said the college will most likely allow students to have their own phones instead of using college-issued phones, after two-thirds of the students who responded said they would rather use their own.

The committee also hopes to continue gaining input on these issues from the students, who are encouraged to contact Bunde or Ehrenfeld with any comments.

The committee has more technical issues to deal with, however, many of which will not effect the service students receive. Over the next six weeks it will be taking bids from various vendors on such services as long distance and voicemail. In addition, it is considering the purchase of a line switching device called a PBX, which would mean a substantial one-time cost, but would save money in the long run over leasing individual lines from Bell Atlantic. Also at stake is the physical installation of cable. Ehrenfeld said the action was spurred largely by a fall 1997 plenary resolution, passed by the student body, which recommended that the administration consider a campus-wide telephone system. In addition, he cited students’ general dissatisfaction with having to set up new phone service every year, and speculated that, because there are so many separate phone lines coming into Haverford’s campus, Bell Atlantic has trouble providing the amount of service required at the beginning of the school year. Bunde also specifically mentioned that students are tired of paying the $40 installation charge each year.

Bunde and Ehrenfefd both said they were confident that student reactions were positive. “I think it’s something that people are going to be excited about,” said Ehrenfeld.

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