Saturday, August 23, 2014

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Wyoming Catholic’s Ban on Cell Phones Gets National Publicity

Wyoming Catholic College is in the news recently because of its on-campus cell phone ban for students.

The ban, which has been in place since the founding of the faithful Catholic college, has all of a sudden become the focus of dozens of news organizations as diverse as YahooNews,The Malaysia Sun and Fox Philadelphia.

But as long ago as 2007, Inside Higher Ed wrote a piece on the cell phone ban with the lede, “Don’t try reaching a Wyoming Catholic College student by cell. Students can't have cell phones on campus – a donated cattle ranch in western Wyoming’s Wind River Mountain Range – or in the surrounding towns.”

But perhaps the idea of living without a phone has become so unthinkable in recent years, that the fact that the Catholic college hasn’t changed, is, in fact, newsworthy.

Dean of Students Jonathan Tonkowich explained it all in a 2010 article:

“…our students are privileged to take an ‘Internet Sabbath’ for four years, which allows them to have real, meaningful communications with one another and to devote intense study to the greatest works of all time – all without being constantly distracted by the seemingly endless array of text messages, emails or blog posts.

“…Here at WCC, we’re all about connecting. But our students are connecting with the greatest ideas and  thinkers the world has ever known. And they can’t use their cell phones or Blackberry to do that.”

Students and staff at the faithful Catholic college seem to be appreciative of the ban.

“It’s a release, really, not having a cell phone,” Erin Milligan, a 20-year-old junior from New Hampshire, reportedly told Yahoo. “When you are no longer captivated by technology, you find your true and real self.”

Jonathan Tonkowich, dean of students at WCC, told Yahoo News that the focus shouldn’t necessarily be on what’s being banned, but what the ban allows them to do. "We're allowing a freedom and a vacation from all that so that students can work on something different: true friendship, true virtue, true study," he reportedly said. 

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