Growth forces phone prefix change

Tavia Green

Western students may fumble as their fingers dial the digits of campus telephone keypads.

A new prefix, 936, has been implemented for dorm telephones. The old 745 prefix, which was previously used to reach both residence halls and faculty on campus, is now used only to reach faculty and staff.

Edwin Craft, associate director of telecommunications, said the growth of the university prompted the change.

“The university has grown from 14,000 to 18,000 students,” Craft said. “With an increase in the student population, there was an increase in the faculty and staff population. As we added more telephones, the numbers ran out rapidly.”

The overnight change, which occured last week, has been in planning for over a year. Craft said the telecommunication department waited to change the prefixes in the dorms until the beginning of the fall semester to avoid confusion among students.

Erin Mooney, a Paducah freshman, said that it was like a new phone number to her.

“I don’t know a lot of people, so I am not affected by the new numbers.” Mooney said.

Still, returning residents may have questions about their new numbers.

Henderson junior Alvin Haygan said that he wasn’t affected much by the change, but felt his parents were. He said incoming freshman really don’t recognize the change, but students who have been on the Hill for years and who have the 745 prefix fixated in their minds may need a little time to adjust.

Western only owns 5,800 phone numbers, but the growth demanded 6,000 numbers. Though a 958-prefix was desired, which would have spelled WKU, BellSouth gave Western the 936.

Though many residents who returned to their same locations may notice that the only thing about their past number that changed was the 745 prefix, Craft said the university now owns the numbers 0000-5000. The last four digits of resident telephone numbers that were bigger than 5000 were changed completely.

Ben Carr, an Owensboro sophomore, said he was surprised when he received a whole new number.

He said his parents and friends had a hard time contacting him for awhile. Other minor problems occurred, including the hassle of having to change the phone number on important documents and forms.

He suggested it would have been easier if the new phone numbers were e-mailed to each resident instead of an e-mail just explaining the prefix change.

Craft said that the easiest way to make on-campus calls is to remember to dial six,before the last four digits of phone numbers in the dorms and five before calling faculty and staff.

This shouldn’t be a problem in the future unless the university population doubles. With 2,600 student phones and 5,000 numbers, the new system has the capacity to handle any future problems.

Student complaints have been low – about 23 student work orders. So far, the transition seems to be going smoothly.

To make sure all students have their phone numbers, the department is sending out workers to label each phone jack. Dorms have posted signs to assist students. If there are still questions or complaints contact the telecommunications department at 5-9999.

With advancement in technology, Western’s telecommunications department is offering new features to interest students. Changes may be coming in long distance call rates and room calls directed to cell phones.

Reach Tavia Green at [email protected]