Glued to our phones, constantly connected, extremely online — the worst stereotypes about the modern college student all seem to center around our dependence on technology. But while it’s true students spend a disproportionate amount of time on their phones, many of us don’t have a choice. In academia and beyond, from Canvas to LinkedIn to Slack, our world demands nearly perpetual access to a screen.
Screens, of course, require electricity. But electricity can be hard to come by at UT, especially during the busiest hours of the day when nearly every conveniently located seat on campus seems to be taken. The University can make life easier for students by adding more public charging stations in the most crowded buildings on campus.
Beyond a few hours, a phone or laptop is useless without a charger. If you don’t have one — maybe you forgot it at home, maybe you lost it, maybe it broke — then UT has you covered. At places like the PCL, the SAC and the Texas Union, you can rent chargers from the front desk. “You can bring your UT ID to the desk and just check one out,” said public relations junior Ashley Stone, who works at the SAC. “You can use it for an hour and then bring it back.”
But a charger is useless without a power outlet, and that’s where you might run into trouble. If you’re like me, you’ve wasted precious time traipsing around the SAC or scouring every floor of the library looking for an open seat near an outlet just so you can work on a paper without worrying about your computer dying mid-sentence. I appreciate the exercise, and it’s a great procrastination tactic, but it’s not exactly convenient.
Public charging stations are a great solution to this problem. The ones that already exist on campus come equipped with charging cables for both old and new iPhones, as well as Android phones. They also have wheels, which increase their mobility.
While you can find these public charging stations on campus, at the Texas Union and the Student Services Building, many of the individual cables do not work due to wear and tear. Moreover, until recently there were also stations at the SAC, but they were removed after falling into disrepair. These kiosks should be replaced and would last longer if there were more of them on campus because an abundance would relieve the stress on individual cables.
With an ordinary charger, a single power outlet can charge one device. With public charging stations, a single power outlet can charge many devices at once — the ones in the Texas Union hold eight devices when fully functioning. In addition, they give students who lost or forgot their chargers a way to stay plugged in — literally and figuratively — without having to hand over their ID and remember to return a rental.
A dead battery can seriously disrupt your day. For better or worse, phones and laptops are central to student life at UT, and adding public charging stations would be a smart investment for the University.
Groves is an philosophy senior from Dallas.