Weld Phone Lines to Be Limited

Matthews Residents Say Restrictions May Cause Tension

Residents of Matthews Hall will have fewer phone lines when they move to Weld Hall next week, an inconvenience which some say could heighten roommate tension and cause problems for students who use computer modems.

According to students who attended a January 14 meeting with representatives of the Harvard Student Telephone Office, all new rooms in Weld will have two phone lines.

Most of the Weld rooms will house five or six students. Rooms in Matthews, which hold only two or three students, have two lines per room.

When current rooming groups merge for the move, students will have a similar number of lines but up to three times as many roommates.

Matthews residents interviewed yesterday said phone line problems could increase tensions between roommates, many of whom had little say in the roommate consolidation process for the move to Weld.


"I did not choose the people for my Weld room," said one Matthews resident who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We were going to get five phone lines and ignore each other. Now that's not possible."

Some of the new rooming groups will consist of students from as many as four different rooms, who collectively have among them as many as five different phone lines, according to Richard B. Osterberg '96.

"This is a massive oversight," said Osterberg, who wrote a letter to the Harvard Student Telephone Office after hearing that rooms in Weld would have only two lines. In the letter, Osterberg said he was "outraged by the lack of foresight."

"While in regards to everyday voice chatting this is not too inconvenient, the problem is horrendous with the introduction of the computer modem," said Osterberg.

When a modem is operated over a conventional telephone line, no outside calls can get through.

Osterberg said he spoke with Jack Wise of the Telephone Office, who was open to suggestions for resolving the problem.

Matthews residents who attended the meeting about the telephone situation said they were told installing additional lines would cost "about $500" and would require additional wiring.

But Osterberg said that he unscrewed the face plate of a voice jack in Matthews and saw that there were eight leads, "theoretically sufficient for four separate phone lines." Osterberg believes that similar jacks exist in Weld and that "actual connection of [more lines] would appear to then be very simple."

Osterberg said he will meet with a representative of the Office for Telecommunications Services tomorrow to discuss his proposed solution.

Ishir Bhan '96, a Matthews resident, said his roommates-to-be "spend a lot of time on the phone," and that the loss of lines will be "pretty inconvenient."

Moreover, Bhan said he and fellow Matthews residents were expecting more lines,not fewer, in the rooms in Weld. "This is a rudeshock," he said.

Elizabeth S. Nathans, dean of first-yearstudents, was sent a copy of the letter byOsterberg. Neither Nathans nor the Harvard StudentTelephone Office could be reached for commentyesterday