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The Dartmouth
May 24, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

DarTalk rates are comparatively high

While many other universities offer students competitive corporate rates for long distance telephone calls, DarTalk, the College's telephone service, charges several cents higher than average corporate rates, much to the continuing complaints of many students.

Higher prices have led some students to cancel their DarTalk accounts or find other ways, such as using calling cards or making collect calls, to get in touch with their family and friends. Currently, about 38 percent of the students on campus do not have DarTalk telephone service, according to the Office of Computing Services.

DarTalk customers pay 16 cents a minute during the day and 12 cents a minute at night, while at some other Ivy League schools, students are paying an average of 10 cents a minute for long distance calls.

"I didn't sign up for DarTalk because of the cost," Erica Zilioli '03 said. "It was cheaper for my parents to call me from home for long talks because they have better long-distance rates."

Ben Phipps '03, who uses a calling card to call his family in New Mexico, said he has also found ways to get free long distance calls through the Internet.

"Paying 12 cents a minute is just ridiculous," he said.

Other universities charge less for telephone service, with rates comparable to those available with major telephone companies.

Brown University's telephone service, provided by AT&T, offers long distance at a flat rate of 10 cents a minute. According to Brown's website, the service is free to all students, with no set-up or monthly charge.

Penntrex, University of Pennsylvania's service, also costs 10 cents a minute, with no sign-up fees or minimum-usage requirements.

"We are also working on a contract to sell cellular phone services so that we can respond to what the students want," said Barbara McNight, a manager for Penntrex.

The increasing student complaints about DarTalk and its prices have led the Student Assembly to meet with the College's telephone service to discuss possible modifications to the current system.

The meeting, which is scheduled for next week, is expected to focus mostly on rates, according to Casey Sixkiller '00, Chair of the Student Assembly's Student Life Committee.

"We currently have no choices available to us," Sixkiller said. "What I'm interested in seeing is what type of deal we can work with the College to bring prices down."

Sixkiller said he would like the rates to be comparable to the rates at other colleges.

"We're about four years behind. This discussion should have happened a long time ago," he said.

According to Elizabeth McClain, the fiscal officer at Computing Services, DarTalk may undergo some major changes in the near future.

"We're very interested in talking with the Student Assembly and seeing what the student body would like," Cain said. "We'd like to consider what they want and what is possible for us to offer."

The structure of DarTalk was overhauled last year, with the service being placed under the Computing Services umbrella. One change that DarTalk made last Fall was elminating the set-up fee users had to pay to obtain a dialtone.