By Victoria Ungvarsky and Emma Welsh-Huggins
1990 called. It wants its phone booths back. There are many aspects of Kenyon that seem leftover from another era. The Collegian set out to explore some of the campus’ antiquated technology.
Blue-lit emergency phones can be spotted gathering dust around campus. First installed in 1988, they served their purpose as a way for students to call for help before the age of cell phones, back when Campus Safety and their emergency line couldn’t be carried around in one’s pocket.
Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper, however, said the emergency phones are checked every week to ensure they are still working. “We believe it’s time for a change to upgrade to more current technology,” he said. “So we’re looking at those options.”
Campus Safety and Library and Information Services work together closely to identify and discuss what new technology is available and compatible with Kenyon’s somewhat dated systems. Possibilities for updating the emergency phones have included connecting the phones to Safety’s two-way radio system, but for now, the cobwebbed blue lights are here to stay.
The popularity of cell phones has had an immense impact on other aspects of campus technology. Each dorm room in a residence hall comes equipped with a phone jack. Before the ubiquity of cell phones, the phone jack allowed students to have a link to the outside world through a personal phone in their room.
But now these jacks have become obsolete. According to the Kenyon website, the College no longer sponsors calls from these jacks, yet they have not been removed from the rooms. The official policy states that the College will only provide a phone in a dorm room if a student can prove a justifiable need. Despite this, phones are provided in all of the New Apartments and North Campus Apartments, some with dial tones and some without.
In place of in-room phones, emergency phones have been strategically placed in residence halls for emergencies. Yet many of these have been added recently, neglecting the once popular phone booths. Found in residence halls, including Caples, Manning and Bushnell, these small rooms were once personal alcoves for students to make their phone calls. But now, they are small empty rooms with no purpose — or at least no College-approved purpose. The former phone booth in Manning now features the words “Sex Room” written in Sharpie.
“I think they’re more comical than anything else,” Manning resident Kalkidan Aseged ’17 said of the empty booths. “It’s kind of a reminder of what it used to be like. But now nobody uses them. They’re just kind of there to be there.”
Kenyon prides itself on its storied traditions and its forward thinking, yet sometimes these two mentalities struggle to coexist. New technology brings the promise of exciting opportunities to campus, at least until that technology too becomes obsolete.