The Minnesota Daily recently published an editorial, “Charging on campus” on Feb. 12 on Minnesota Student Association’s completed proposal to implement cellphone charging stations in high-traffic areas. The editorial stated that “it would be a poor use of money” to install and implement these cellphone charging stations. I disagree with that sentiment, and I believe it is partially due to a lack of due diligence on the part of the editorial board of the Daily.
The article’s argument rests on a couple of assertions, the first of which is that cellphone charging stations address a “nonexistent problem.” The editorial board acknowledges, however, that there are “an inadequate number of outlets in several common areas.” In fact, many students do find themselves with a dying phone and no convenient place to charge it. Implementing cellphone charging stations would free up the already strained outlet space for students. The editorial board also proposed that “finding ways to redesign electrical usage … in Coffman” would be a better solution. Rewiring and redesigning outlet space in the student union would actually be a far more expensive and difficult solution than the simple installation of cellphone charging stations. Further, this has been addressed by Student Unions and Activities which has been actively increasing the number of outlets in Coffman Union since 2008, along with the fact that they have already installed a charging station in Goldy’s Gameroom.
The actual cost of these charging stations is relatively low, at $299 per unit, with installation for the entire system likely to cost less than $200, a cost of less than 2 cents per student. The “constant changing of new phone plugs” would also likely not be a problem, as the agreement made by 14 major cellphone manufacturers to standardize phone chargers in 2009 is well underway. The benefit that students would get from being able to have a place to charge their phones is not just a social one. Students use their phones to coordinate study groups, resolve housing issues with landlords, communicate with professors and with the workplace and to help schedule their busy lives.
The editorial states that “it should not be the responsibility of the student government to help peers keep their phones charged.” The mission statement of MSA states that our aim is to “better the rights and privileges” of students at the University of Minnesota. Cellphone charging stations are a quick, easy fix to help make a student’s experience at the University more convenient, more accessible and more enjoyable. This is the exact kind of thing that MSA should be spending student services fees on.
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