Scholarship News

Vigilance, Verizon to Replace Blue Phones in Contra Costa?


September 2, 2010
by Kevin Ladd
Between the realization that virtually every college student roaming their campuses has a cell phone and the rather considerable expense of “blue phone” maintenance, the Contra Costa Community College District has decided to do away with the recently upgraded telephones intended to ensure safety for those wandering the campus after dark.

Between the realization that virtually every college student roaming their campuses has a cell phone and the rather considerable expense of “blue phone” maintenance, the Contra Costa Community College District has decided to do away with the recently upgraded telephones intended to ensure safety for those wandering the campus after dark.

Just a couple of years ago, the district spent around $100,000 upgrading the phones from analog to digital and are probably now wishing they had a little more foresight, given the rapid proliferation of cell phones on their campuses. Since that expense, they have been throwing good money after bad, with maintenance costs of about $50,000 each year and even with that, the call boxes are frequently down, sometimes with an actual “Out of Order” sign hanging from them.

As it has reportedly been several years since a single, verified “real” emergency call has come in from one of these rather expensive fixtures and there is no indication the blue phones act as any sort of deterrent against campus assaults, the prudent thing to do seems to be to just do away with them.

With the blue phones gone, more emphasis would be put on the college’s neighborhood-watch style program, encouraging students to be vigilant and to look-out for one another, reporting any assaults or conflicts warranting professional intervention to campus security and/or the police.

This may or may not become a national trend, with some campuses installing new blue phones to this day, but for Contra Costa, the return on their investment in the fixtures just isn’t there. There is a strong belief that, between cell phones so commonly being carried by students and increased awareness and vigilance, their campuses can remain safe while reducing some of their operating expenses. What about you? Does your campus still have blue phones? Do you think it is a waste of resources? Please feel free to comment and let us know what you think!

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