I received a message today from the college I teach at. In response to the shootings at Northern Illinois, they're implementing a third-party notification system. They give no specifics about this system, but at they end they say this:
This system will be a powerful tool that we will allow us to communicate instantaneously. To maximize effectiveness, however, we will need everyone in the campus community to provide us with their most current cell phone number.
Now keep in mind that this is the institution that pays two-thirds of its adjuncts something like $2175 per course without a Ph.D. and about $500 more to those with one. (They arbitrarily selected some departments to give a raise to at the beginning of this year to equal one-third. Next year they'll pick another few departments to make it two-thirds, and the year after will lead to a raise for the rest.) Keep in mind also that they don't normally allow adjuncts to teach more than two courses per semester (with one in the summer, and those pay based on how many students are enrolled). Remember also that it would be stupid for someone trying to finish a dissertation to try to teach more than that (and I only teach that much to retain half-time work to keep health insurance, which the state, not the college, provides and only to families of at least five at my income level.)
[When the adjuncts at Syracuse University formed a union, the faculty at this college were so embarrassed (because they pay even less) that they passed a resolution urging the president to give immediate raises to their own adjuncts, who get paid about 2/3 as much as the adjuncts at the university. It went nowhere for a year, and then they decided to implement the ridiculous three-stage raise described above, which angered the 2/3 of the adjuncts who were now getting paid less than the people who sit next to them in their office without anyone doing any different work. This attempt to pacify the adjuncts thus led pretty quickly to the very union they were seeking to stave off. Suffice it to say that this is one of clearest cases of white-collar exploitation I've been familiar with.]
So why is it that they're expecting people in this kind of position to have a cell phone? Do they honestly expect people with a family who can't afford to have more than one phone to have that one phone be a cell phone that only one of them can have and that it would happen to be with the one who works for them? I'd much rather have VOIP. It's cheaper, includes the free long-distance, and doesn't bring with it the temptation to leave one's spouse stranded at home with no phone. It also allows multiple physical phones with one connection, so we can charge one while using another or have two people talk at the same time. There are times when I'd like a cell phone with me when I'm out, but it's just not a good idea to expect your employees to have one if these are the working conditions you're going to provide for them. Notice that it doesn't say "everyone who has a cell phone". It says "everyone in the campus community". They really are assuming everyone has a cell phone.
Now I could give them my most current cell phone number. It won't do them much good, though. I'm sure someone else has been using it for over a year. They didn't ask for a current number, though, just the most current one, and I can give them that. I probably shouldn't, though. It wouldn't be nice to whoever has it.