Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

It seems like a pattern here.Last semester, operating hours of campus dining facilities were adjusted and students were incredulous. Most of Sykes stopped serving at 8 p.m. A sole register was in use for five hours at the new diner. It was as if we were living at a sleep-away camp rather than a university.

Well now, yet again, the students of this University – especially those living on campus – are being short-changed. Front desks in all residence halls are opening later in the day and closing earlier in the evening, thus providing fewer services to the 4,000+ students that live on campus.

Students who live in residence halls are provided with a number of essential and non-essential services from the Office of Residence Life and Housing Services – all through the front desk of their building. Any mail that cannot fit in a mailbox about the size of sneaker is held behind the desk for students. When a third-party company such as UPS or FedEx delivers packages, they leave them at the front desk. If there’s nobody at the front desk, the package leaves the building with the delivery-person.

Probably the most important services the front desk provides are those pertaining to conflict resolution. An on-call resident assistant or director is always available through the front-desk. In the case of alcohol or noise violations, roommate conflicts, or the simple but frequent occurrence of being locked out, the front desk is the go-to point. But it isn’t if the desk isn’t occupied.

Of course, the desk is also there for students’ convenience. They rent DVDs, cookware, billiards equipment and other recreational items. They also sign out the keys for computer labs and study lounges.

Last semester, and for many semester prior, normal operating hours of the front desks in residence halls provided that the desk be opened as early as 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends and close as late as 11:30 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday nights and 1:30 a.m. Thursday to Saturday nights. These hours provided good coverage for an active student lifestyle. For the most part, the desks were open when students were most likely to be active and coming in and out of the building.

This semester, front desks will be open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. until midnight Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Sunday. Clearly these hours of operation are not sufficient. Clearly students need assistance before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m. The reduction in operating hours for the desks seems to be a cheap attempt to scrounge for budget dollars within the Office of Res. Life. By our estimates, the new hours represent 29 less hours of service, per week per residence hall. Desk assistants get paid $7.15 (starting) and $7.50 (returning) an hour this semester. Twenty-nine hours at $7.33 (the average) an hour is $212.57. Res. Life is saving less than $225 a week per building to trim 29 key hours out of the operating hours of our front desks.

It isn’t like the desks sit idle when they are open to students – we use them. So why the new hours? We hope enough students ask that question to their resident directors. This academic year, students paid more than ever for room and board, so why are we getting less bang for our buck?

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