Cell phone charging stations coming to campus

Andrew Lee, a senior in psychology, entered his fall 2012 class schedule into his cellphone at the start of the semester. But when he checked his schedule on the first day of school, his phone’s screen was black and the battery dead.

“I ran back to Watson and checked my schedule,” said Lee, who arrived late to class.

It’s a scenario no student wants to experience and one the Information Technology (IT) department and student leaders hope to resolve by installing cellphone charging stations across campus during winter break.

Student body president Hannah Bolton and vice president Brandon Woodard polled student interest in charging stations prior to April’s election. Since then, they have been working with the IT department to determine the best way to give the University community stop-and-go charging stations.

“So many people live off campus and need to charge their phones,” Bolton said. “Students brought up the idea.”

Bolton said there will be about 30 stations located in high-traffic areas throughout campus.

“This is something Hannah and Brandon brought to us,” said Ann Ermey, IT’s director of service management and delivery. “Each year KU IT works with Student Senate to make sure technology is helping students and helping meet their goals. We thought it sounded like a really good plan.”

Going small
Companies across the country are developing many types of phone charging stations. Some are full kiosks and some come with cell phone lockers so students can leave their phones to charge. According to Ermey, the leading candidate for the University’s project is KwikBoost, a Dallas-based company that supplies stations to more than 200 other universities, including three Big 12 schools.

The charging station wall mount has nine charger cords, including iPhone, universal micro and mini-USB compatibilities. It would also have a small platform for people to place their phones while charging.

Joe Mecca, the president and co-founder of Kwikboost, said KwikBoost is designed for college settings.

“Other options are expensive, big and bulky and you consume more power,” Mecca said. “We’re the leading company by a longshot. Our stations are energy-efficient.”

The University of Florida considered installing KwikBoost chargers last spring but Florida Student Senate president Christina Bonarrigo said students preferred charging kiosks produced by Georgia-based Charge N Go.

“KwikBoost are wall mounts,” Bonarrigo said. “We wanted a self-standing kiosk because cords can be easily ripped. We didn’t know if departments would be willing drill into their walls for the stations.”

At a cost of $27,000 for six kiosks, Bonarrigo said the kiosks have been popular among students.

No Student Cost
While most platform items require a Student Senate vote or recommendation, the cellphone charging stations don’t because students won’t absorb the costs. Bolton, Woodard and IT have already recommended KwikBoost for the project. IT will pay for the estimated $9,000 KwikBoost project through a special projects fund.

Bolton and Ermey both said they like KwikBoost because it is a reliable, affordable option. A pack of 10 can cost $2,300, while one kiosk from another vendor may cost more than $1,000.

Student interest
Warner Cook, a senior in architectural studies, said as long as seating is close to the station, she would charge her phone in between classes.

“I’m on campus 13 hours on Tuesdays and I get dropped off and picked up,” Cook said. “I had to wait around once because my phone died after class at 8:30 at night and I couldn’t call my ride. It was pretty annoying. It’s frustrating sitting there for 15 minutes anxious.”

While she often brings her charger to campus, Cook said she would still use the stations.

“It’s nice to hear that it wouldn’t be coming out of student fees,” Cook said.

Lee often uses his car charger, but also said he and others would probably use the campus charging stations.

“If you have very, very long classes and near the end of a long day, I could see people charging,” Lee said. “People are always on the go and don’t trust their phones.”

Vikaas is a senior from Naperville, Ill. majoring in journalism. Read more from .

  • Updated Nov. 21, 2012 at 9:37 am
  • Edited by Laken Rapier