CSU makes rocky phone line switch

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) recently switched phone companies in order to save money. The change caused confusion and chaos to clubs and organizations at the Loyola campus.
“We changed to AT&T because we were being charged about $40,000 a year by Bell and Telesis [the company set up by the university which deals with the administration and maintenance of the phone lines] and we wanted to save more money,” said Mistie Mullarkey the CSU’s VP Academic.
Another reason why the CSU switched was that Telesis would not give the CSU the breakdown of who was using their phone lines.
“It was ridiculous. We couldn’t get information on how many phone lines we had or who was using them,” said Mullarkey.
Previously, the CSU was being charged by Bell for the use of the phone lines and by Telesis for the administration and maintenance of the phone lines. “Overall Concordia benefits with Bell and Telesis, but for the CSU it is much cheaper to be with AT&T,” Mullarkey said.
Elias Makos, the station manager for CJLO at the Loyola campus wonders whether the switch was worth it. “The first day was horrible. Our contacts had a lot of trouble calling us and these contacts are crucial to our radio station. We never got our messages and we couldn’t call out. It was all very confusing and chaotic,” said Makos.
Makos never knew about the change until last Monday when he picked up the phone. “We weren’t informed by AT&T of the switch until the very last moment and there was no time to contact the clubs at Loyola,” said Mullarkey.
The switch occurred at the SGW campus in October. At the Loyola campus, it happened sometime over the holidays.
Last summer, the CSU’s General Manager Rick Stom and former VP Finance Sheryll Navidad tried to negotiate a better deal with Telesis, but the offer was not satisfactory. That is when the CSU decided to go with AT&T.
Because of the new telephone system is not part of Concordia University’s Telesis, those phoning from CSU lines must dial a seven-digit number instead of four digits to call other departments in the university.
When the CSU broke away from the contract with Bell, which was good for five more years, the university had to pay a stiff penalty fee. “The administration had to pay roughly a $60,000 penalty,” said Michael Di Grappa, Vice-Rector (services).
Mullarkey says that the CSU was not bound to the contract.
Being with AT&T, the CSU now knows how many phone lines they have. “We have about a hundred phone lines,” said Patrice Blais the Chair of the Council of Representatives and acting VP Finance, “and we will be cutting about ten of them that are not part of the CSU.”
According to Blais the CSU will save around $23,000 with AT&T. Cutting phone lines that are not used and those that do not belong to the CSU will save the union three thousand dollars.
Blais also discovered that under the previous system, the CSU was paying for their phone lines twice. “We would give money to clubs for their phone bills, but we had already paid for them. At the beginning this way of paying for phone bills was respected, but then it broke down over the years. The situation is now rectified,” added Blais.
Paying only once for the phone lines will add $10,000 to the coffers of the CSU. Not having to pay both Bell and Telesis will save the union another $10,000, since AT&T combines the costs for the phone lines and those for their administration.

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