Removal of Physical Line-Based Telephones
May 20, 2020
(Note this policy is subject to change.)
Departmental requests to remove telephones for individual staff and faculty
While removal of physical line-based phones may be viable at some point in the future, this is not an option at this time based on safety, communications, and financial feasibility for the University as a whole.
For safety reasons, the campus acquired a location specific emergency reporting system. If a call is made to 911 emergency dispatch services from a campus telephone, the emergency operators know specifically from which building, floor, and room the call was initiated as soon as the final digit is dialed. Considerable risk is assumed if a campus phone is not used in an emergency situation. Emergency services would potentially need to search a large building or floor of a building for a victim or patient if complete information is not available or given during the call. A number of circumstances could result in such limited information being communicated:
- If a person attempts to use their cell phone for an emergency call, they may not have time to get their phone out or find the phone.
- There also may not be adequate cell phone reception in the interior spaces of many of the buildings on campus to provide details or relay complete information regarding the emergency.
- The telephones are an integral part of the safety system in laboratories, campus emergency blue light phones, elevators, common areas, or spaces generally occupied by students in the course of their University studies. The risk management obligations increase proportionally when student health and safety are concerned.
Without the availability of a campus telephone to University employees who have a regular need for or a requirement to use a telephone as part of their job duties, an employee might resort to the uncompensated use of their personal cell phone, which could later result in a claim against the University for personal property used for university business.
The campus telephone system is a service in which the campus customers share equally in the benefit and system expense. Departments that reduce their number of telephones not by actual service requirements but as a means of reducing their annual budget outlay are transferring their shared cost to the remaining departments across campus, increasing the per set telephone charge for those system customers. While the telecommunications group routinely adds or reduces telephones where positions have been eliminated or space vacated, such a wholesale abandonment of an economic common good, places an undue burden on remaining areas of the campus.
Ultimately, if such an approach were to be adopted by numerous departments to save a small amount of operating funds, this would leave the balance of the campus to shoulder the expense of this important shared service. One would be to charge by the number of people in the department rather than by the physical phone, which would result in the same amounts as present and collect these funds centrally to pay for the shared telephone system.