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College to make students use and pay for cell phones

December 6th, 2007

A new requirement will demand students of Montclair State University in New Jersey to carry a cell phone at all times. Not only is the cell phone required, but students are also responsible for paying $420 for it. The yearly bill will be added on to every students tuition bill, according to The Associated Press.

The downside to the plan is that it only allows 50 peak voice minutes per month. The upside however allows unlimited text messaging, unlimited campus-based data usage, and student activated emergency GPS tracking.
The GPS tracking is to allow a sense of security for everyone, especially after recent kidnappings and shootings at other universities. These particular GPS cell phones specifically for students are the products of the first program of its kind in the country.
“What it does is allow students to have an extra pair or group of people watching over them when they’re going from one location to another,” Montclair Police Department Chief Paul Cell told CBS News.

This new requirement of student paid cell phones is the first of its kind. Some students have told sources that they like the idea of the cell phones because it makes them feel safe. Other students are frustrated with the additional high cost because they already have a hard enough time paying for school.

“While I suppose most students already do have cell phones, making it mandatory would discriminate against students who are poor and cannot afford to pay a monthly tab for a cell. It’s like insisting students have computers. Some universities just provide a laptop to every freshman,” said Richard Hendrickson, professor of communications and theatre arts at John Carroll University.
Many students are curious as to why they have to pay for the mandatory cell phone if the University is really concerned about their safety. They feel if safety were really the university’s main concern, then they should be picking up the tab.
Montclair State University is the first to enact such a unique safety precaution such as this one. It may be because MSU is New Jersey’s second largest and fastest-growing university.
At other schools, however, such as Kean and Princeton, students can register their cell phones and e-mails and receive instant alerts in case of trouble for free. Although many are for the constant communication idea, some people, such as professors, are very much against it, according to The AP.

“The contemporary American obsession with constant availability is neurotic; I would think an institution of higher learning would want to foster a focused life rather than one so dissipated,” said Sheila McGinn, professor of Biblical Studies & Early Christianity at John Carroll University. Some students feel that the cell phones are just there too put a little extra cash in a couple businesses pockets.
“Frankly, I think it’s a scam,” Gennaro Esposito, 20, a senior told nj.com, a Web site about everything New Jersey.
The Web site says that the service is Sprint/Nextel, with added gizmos provided by Rave Wireless, a company specializing in attracting a college audience.

The profits that anyone is actually making off of the required GPS cell phones is unknown to the public.
Many are curious to see whether or not students will actually abide by the requirement and carry the cell phones with them at all times. To make the phone a little more attractive to the students, since the GPS factor might bother them some, Montclair State wants to bundle in campus e-mail and other applications with the device.