Montclair State Unveils Mandatory 'School Phone'
Students Must Carry And Pay For GPS-Based Cell Device

CBS | November 26, 2007

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBS) - College students at Montclair State University are all talking about a new requirement that will require students to have a cell phone.

CBS 2 HD has learned more on this required feature that is forcing students to dig into their wallets.

At Montclair State, there is no excuse for being out of touch.

"'School Phone' I use for campus e-mail, different things like that," freshman Angela Vuocolo said.

That's right.

First-year student Vuocolo said 'School Phone' -- as in a Sprint-operated cell phone -- is now mandatory for all students. It's the first program of its kind in the country.

The cost: $420 a year for a base plan which is bundled into the tuition bill.

It includes just 50 peak voice minutes a month, but unlimited text messaging to any carrier, unlimited campus-based data usage, and student activated emergency GPS tracking.

"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 said.

The positive impact is already being felt across campus.

"It makes me feel comfortable," MSU freshman Ricky Bodtmann said. "I guess if people want to feel safe."

Added student Vanessa Adames: "It's very helpful. I have the train schedule on there. I can check my e-mail."

There are various phone and call plan options, but the bottom line is you have to pick one. That could be a problem for someone with their own cell phone and their own monthly bill.

"I don't see why they should be adding unnecessary fees to the students who have a hard time paying for college like I do," freshman Sury Lopez said.

One mother agrees.

"It's very expensive and quite honestly for the protection of the kids on campus the school should be giving that for free," Patty Carragh said.

University officials say the school doesn't profit from the deal.

"If you're mobile accessing the campus from anywhere with some device that's attached to your hip, the truth of the matter is, you're also avoiding a lot of costs," said Ed Chapel, Montclair State vice president of information technology.

The program has another benefit -- students now have another way to call home and ask for money.

This year Farleigh Dickinson University also began a mandatory cell phone program, but the school picked up the cost for all of its on-campus student residents.