Campus text service hopes to expand

Mobile Campus has about 1,150 people enrolled and wants more — in numbers and services.

Since its Kent State debut last October, Jared Kurilchick, marketing manager for Mobile Campus at Kent State, said the service is working to build on its successes and overcome its obstacles to establish the service as an alternative source of communication at the university.

Kurilchick said Mobile Campus — the text messaging service that connects Kent State students, faculty, staff, alumni and local businesses — is free to enroll, but text messages cost money if users do not have unlimited text messaging.

Currently, the main users are students who can receive university announcements and coupons from participating local businesses, but Kurilchick said Mobile Campus is also designed to efficiently link professors and students.

“The biggest advantage is that students don’t check their e-mail as often as needed,” he said. “(The cell phone) is the form of communication students have on them all the time.”

Benjamin Feld, undergraduate student senator for student advancement, said he thinks the cost factor is preventing faculty members from using Mobile Campus.

USS Executive Director Ross Miltner recently met with members from the Faculty Senate’s executive committee to promote the service.

Kurilchick said Mobile Campus is relying on Faculty Senate approval to generate more interest among professors.

“We thought it would be wiser to face the Faculty Senate, so if they saw it in person, it can trickle down through their departments,” he said.

To combat the cost issue, Kurilchick said Mobile Campus is in negotiations with top wireless providers to allow free text messages from the service.

Kurilchick said Mobile Campus is also working to expand its merchants to include entertainment, clothing and nightlife. Participating local businesses currently include Campus Book & Supply, Fat Billy’s, Guy’s Pizza, King Subs and Muzgee’s.

“With more students, the businesses will be more willing to sign up,” Feld said.

So far, Kurilchick said the coupon redemption rates have been positive. For instance, he said Campus Book & Supply coupons sent at the end of last semester had a 10 percent return rate compared to average return rates for print ads, which are generally about 1 percent.

Until then, Kurilchick said Mobile Campus’s main priority is increasing student enrollment by targeting student groups and organizations on campus.

Mike Moore, president of Phi Delta Zeta, encouraged about 20 members of his fraternity to join Mobile Campus as a way to quickly keep in touch.

“I use it basically when it is a last-minute change of things,” he said, adding that most of the fraternity members are willing to pay for the occasional text messages.

In addition to sign-up locations in the Student Center and Recreation and Wellness Center, Feld said Mobile Campus is adding another sign-up booth in Tri-Towers to take advantage of high-volume, student traffic.

One of the problems, Kurilchick said, is explaining the entire service to students when they sign up.

“I think that there’s a fine line between giving people too much information and not enough,” he said. “We may not cover everything.”

Feld said for each person who signs up for the service, $1 will be given to USS. The use of the money received will be voted on at the end of the semester by the senators.

By the end of the semester, Kurilchick said he hopes Mobile Campus enrollment reaches 3,500 users.

“We’re working and trying,” Feld said. “I think next year will be a big boost.”

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].