Students upset over call code

By the

September 6, 2001

A new campus phone policy requiring students to enter a personal code to make local calls prompted a letter of concern from Georgetown University Student Association leaders to a University official, Tuesday.

GUSA president Ryan DuBose (CAS ‘02) and Vice President Brian Walsh (CAS ‘02) sent a letter to David Lambert, Vice President for Information Services and Chief Information Officer, expressing “strong concerns” that the policy, designed to limit fraud, was implemented without student input, did not clearly detail how it could eliminate fraud and treated all students as the source of fraud.

The new policy requires students to enter a personal security code before completing local and toll-free calls from campus phones. University Information Services said the new policy will help prevent $15,000 to $17,000 worth of fraudulent calls made every year. Until this year, local and toll-free calls could be placed from phones in residence halls without a code.

“This policy has already cause[d] a high level of student dissatisfaction,” DuBose and Walsh wrote. “It is one of the many ‘little frustrations’ about Georgetown that add up and take away from the overall Georgetown experience.”

Lambert said that the new policy in phone usage accompanied a switch in the long-distance provider for the University. The University is using a specialized company, PAE-TEC, for local service and AT&T for long-distance calls, Lambert said.

Approximately 5,000 local and toll free phone calls were being made each month that could not be traced to individuals; according to Lambert, some of those phone calls resulted in expensive charges to the University.

“In a fraud situation, we would like to be able to track phone calls,” Lambert said. “In the standard situation, we had no way of tracking that stuff.”

In response to concerns about privacy, Lambert said UIS staff could not look up the numbers called by individuals. In a fraudulent situation, approval from the Provost or Senior Vice President would be necessary to access a student’s billing records.

Lambert said that he did not know whether students had been consulted about the change in phone policy, but he said a “significant amount of discussion” had occurred between his office and the Office of Student Affairs.

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