SGA to Make Fridays Phone-Free

Every Friday at lunch in the Metz Dinning Hall,  SGA members will designate a “Phone Zone” on each table. Students are challenged to place their phones in the “Phone Zone” while they eat and not use them until they are ready to leave.

Every Friday at lunch in the Metz Dinning Hall, SGA members will designate a “Phone Zone” on each table. Students are challenged to place their phones in the “Phone Zone” while they eat and not use them until they are ready to leave.

Highlander Staff Reports

   Could you endure an entire cafeteria meal without looking at your phone? That’s what the Student Government Association wants students to do during its  “Phone Free Fridays” campaign.

   Every Friday at lunch in the Metz Dinning Hall,  SGA members will designate a “Phone Zone” on each table. Students are challenged to place their phones in the “Phone Zone” while they eat and not use them until they are ready to leave.

   “We’re challenging people to engage in conversations with people and not their phones, a sentiment recent studies can attest to as a challenge not only on college campuses, but everywhere with wifi or a cell signal,” said Student Government President Michael Pheasant.

   The idea for the campaign came from SGA members’ frustration about cell phone over-use.

   “The idea came up at one of our board meetings where someone mentioned how frustrating it was to see so many people allow their phones to inhibit or replace their conversations with their friends. Our conversation evolved into a brainstorming session about what should and could be done about what we were all seeing and what we all considered to be detrimental to our campus community,” said Pheasant.

   According to a Gallup Poll conducted in July 2015, 52% of smartphone users check their phones several times per hour. A Pew Research Center study found that 47% of the 18 to 29 year old participants admitted to using their phones to avoid interacting with other people.

   The challenge is meant to help lower this statistic and encourage students to spend a little time during the day phone free.

   “Our hope is that for one meal a week students would put their phones down while sitting at the table and engage in actual conversations with each other,” said Pheasant.

   Pheasant acknowledged that not everyone will be up to the challenge, but he feels encouraging students to interact with each other a little bit more, even for one meal, one day each week, can go a long way in helping to make the university environment better.

   “Let’s see if we can discipline ourselves to do this,” said Pheasant.

   Student Government members say the campaign might have the added benefit of helping people break some bad public cell phone habits that most people are guilty of.

   “Just look around the dinning hall. Mostly the people that are eating with others are not on their phones, while the people who are eating alone are typically on their phones,” said junior physical therapy major Arielle Kneller. “I feel  that putting down your phone would be easy with a group of people to talk to,” said Kneller.

   SGA members say the effort will be successful as long as it gets students talking.

   “Unlike our other events, student support doesn’t make or break this initiative. We understand that this might not be the event that draws immense support or even participation. The hope is that every single student that walks into the cafe on Fridays at lunch is affected one way or another,” said Pheasant. “If a student just considers putting his or her phone down to engage in a conversation, the project has been a success. This is essentially a challenge to students to get out of their comfort zone and try something new,” said Pheasant.

   No phone-use policies apply to public university areas as they do in the fat paragraph at the end of every syllabus that states that cell phones are not to be used in class, and bad phone habits continue, especially during students’ meal times.

   “We think that this could be an opportunity to make positive impact on our campus in a unique way,” said Pheasant.

   SGA members remind students that even though technology is  a great tool, it is important to add face-time to their lives.

   “Although we hope it does happen, our goal is not to generate student support or necessarily participation; our goal is rather to just get students to consider putting down their phones and reconnecting with their fellow students who they are eating with. This meal time is one of the very few opportunities that we have in our American culture to sit down, unplug and carry on a conversation with other human beings, and we see an opportunity to preserve that,” said Pheasant.