Tough Cell: Banning Cell Phones at Marlboro College? | Education | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It

Tough Cell: Banning Cell Phones at Marlboro College? 

Local Matters

At their campus-wide Town Meeting on Wednesday, October 6, the students, faculty and staff of Marlboro College will debate an issue that's emerging as one of the country's most provocative and divisive social concerns: cellular-phone etiquette.

The crunchy liberal-arts college in Marlboro, Vermont -- featured prominently in this year's Princeton Review College Guide as a place where professors bring their subject matter to life and students never stop studying -- has barely 350 students. Every three weeks, the entire student body, faculty and staff gather in one room to discuss and vote on how the school should be run. At their next meeting, they'll consider a resolution restricting cell-phone use to private quarters, such as dorm rooms and offices.

Eric Verkerke, a 21-year-old sophomore from Charlottesville, Virginia, submitted the resolution after several "cells" went off in his classes during the first week of school. Saying he doesn't have anything against cell phones per se, Verkerke points out that the resolution wouldn't ban them from school but would limit where they could be used. "People just assume there are no restrictions on when it's polite and when it's impolite," he says. Verkerke hopes to keep the phones out of classrooms, eating areas and widely used public spaces. "I think [cell-phone use] breaks up some of the sense of community and social atmosphere," he suggests, "to have one person having a one-sided conversation in the middle of that."

Tina Forsee, a 22-year-old junior from Oklahoma City, disagrees. She thinks that cell phones should be switched off during classes, but allowed in case of emergency. She doesn't have a cell phone, but isn't bothered by other students' conversations. "It's just something that happens," Forsee says. "I think the argument is really irrational, and it comes from a fear of technology that's typical of Marlboro."

The controversy has attracted considerable media attention because of the college's reputation as a technophobic "hippie" institution -- students rejected an offer from the school president to provide campus access to satellite TV several years ago. Dean of Students Nancy Pike offers some perspective on the cell-phone debate: "If we get caught up in making it a silly college student story, we miss the point," she says. "We can live in conscientious communities. That, for me, is the real story."

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It

More by Cathy Resmer

About The Author

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer

Cathy Resmer is a former staff writer and currently an associate publisher at Seven Days, and is one of the organizers of the Vermont Tech Jam. She's also the Copublisher and Executive Editor of Kids VT, Seven Days' free monthly parenting publication.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2017 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation