By Sana Husain
The incessant vibrating of a cell phone is an irresistible invitation to peek at your newest text message. Even while you try to listen to your professor, the buzzing beckons to you.
During class, cell phones have become a major distraction for college students, and are a common problem in many classrooms. Students and professors have to deal with obnoxious ring tones, vibrating pockets or fingers concentrating on sending a text message rather than taking notes.
Why can’t students simply ignore their cell phones or just turn them off during class?
Junior Heather Doherty feels that her cell phone usage depends on the class she’s in and the professor.
“I know in classes where my professor is strict, I won’t use my cell phone, but in classes where it’s easy to pull it out, I will,” Doherty said. “It’s also hard to sit during a long lecture without checking your phone, and sometimes I feel almost obligated to check it.”
Junior Paula Linthicum believes professors need to be stricter when it comes to students using cell phones in class.
“I think it’s distracting not only for the person using their cell but for professors and classmates,” Linthicum said. “It’s rude towards the professor but it also distracts me when I see someone pull out their cell phone and start text messaging because I can still hear the clicking buttons.”
Cell phones have become an essential part of life for students in and out of class. People have an increased dependency on their cell phones, which tends to cause problems for other students.
“I get distracted from my schoolwork most of the time by my phone or other classmates’ phones,” said senior Laura Franko.
Professors can put harsh consequences on students who choose to use their cell phones in class. However, that does not mean that students who try to “secretly” use them will stop.
Dr. Jonathan Millen, chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism and professor of communication, thinks texting in class is terribly disrespectful.
“When you see two hands under a desk, you can pretty much assume they’re texting,” he said. “I try to nip it in the bud [at the beginning of the semester].”
Millen tries to make light of the bad habit at first.
“If I know the student I will sometimes first make a joke of it,” he said. “For instance, I’ll say ‘I assume you’re texting me?’”
Some students, such as sophomore Elvin Porrata, feel that it is their own responsibility to be respectful and not use cell phones and that there is no need for professors to restrict them.
“I try to avoid using my cell phone in class as much as possible because I feel it causes a distraction,” Porrata said. “Sometimes when I do use my cell phone, I lose track of what’s going on in class. It’s my responsibility to focus and not get distracted.”
Trying to avoid a cell phone isn’t as easy as it may seem. Some students claim that they can’t even sit through class without constantly using their phones.
Senior Sophia Carabetta feels she can easily get away with using her cell phone.
“I usually text message during class and it doesn’t really distract me, especially in classes that are just lectures,” Carabetta said. “I have never had any policy against cell phone use in any of my classes that was actually listed in the syllabus.”
Cell phones offer new possibilities for students. Problems go beyond just text messaging during class. Cell phones allow users to keep notes and take pictures too, which can potentially lead to students cheating.
Although many professors’ syllabi do not officially state rules and policies against cell phone use in class, they still do not want cell phones causing any distractions. According to many students, professors have called out those who are caught using their cell phones during class.
With the rising use of cell phones during class time, it is uncertain what can be the solution. Professors can adopt policies and rules against cell phone use in class, but it seems the only way to ensure that the rules are effective is if the University as a whole abides by them. Students would then be able to see the seriousness of the disturbance cell phones cause for others in class.
“I use my cell phone without thinking twice about the consequences,” said junior Kevin Shoemaker. “I think if students knew they could get in trouble and face penalties for using their cell phones during class they would be less likely to use them.”