- See also Wikipedia's article about "ROLM".
ROLM Phones (pronounced "rahlm") make up the campus-wide phone system. Phone numbers for student rooms in the residence halls are 212-853-xxxx. Administration and faculty phone numbers are 212-854-xxxx. Standard ROLM Phone units have free on-campus dialing, voice mail, call forwarding, call waiting, and a one-way speaker phone. In 2010, Columbia announced that it was ditching ACUS, the AT&T Campus phone service, and doing its phone service in-house. This means that students will no longer have to deal with paying AT&T for any calls made on the ROLM phone--instead they will be billed directly to a student account.
Before ROLM, there was CENTREX. Then, ROLM was installed, circa 1988. But of course, as the saying goes, ROLM wasn't built in a day. Initially, the system was a useful medium for connecting members of the campus. However, ROLM phones are now generally unused by students, who opt instead for the many more convenient forms of inter-campus communication such as e-mail, instant messaging, and cell phones.
Campus wide phone messages sent to ROLM phones absolutely never contain useful information that cannot be obtained elsewhere quicker and more conveniently. A folded piece of paper tucked under the plastic faceplate is an effective way to hide the annoying red blinking light. Or you could just unplug the phone.
The signature icon of the ROLM phone is the ROLM Phone Lady, who supplies the voice for university announcements sent out over the system.
Accessing voicemail off campus
The phone number for getting your voicemail from off campus is 854-7916. In a typically opaque CU fashion, this useful fact is listed nowhere on Columbia's own webpages.
Contribution to Western Culture: The Little Mermaid Message
The saga of a ROLM-phone message which was forwarded all over campus by students is difficult to explain. Fortunately there is a section of an episode of NPR's "this american life" devoted to explaining it (See links below).
- Rolm Phone System on the Housing website
- The Decline and Fall of ROLM - Bwog article on ROLM phones
- The Decline and Fall of ROLM - same article as above, but in jpeg format
- Radio story about, in part, an infamous Voicemail message forwarded all over Columbia via ROLM. Pre-dates viral email spam.
- Posting on "My Columbia" by the recipient of the original message.