By Mike Sherr
When residents in on-campus dorms return from late night studying or a quick C-Store run, they are often greeted by a Desk Assistant waiting to let them in. From 8 p.m. to midnight, residents have to either quickly show their student IDs or sign their guests into the building. As of this semester, however, there will no longer be a DA checking IDs in Hausdoerffer and Phelps Halls.
Hausdoerffer and Phelps, which mostly house upperclassmen, provide apartment-style housing for about 200 students. The residence halls currently have no student workers covering the front desks, leaving students and guests to walk in freely after swiping into the building.
“They're completely gone,” said Keya Chatterjee, a junior marketing major and resident in the apartments.
Michelle Forbes, an associate director in the Office of Residential Education and Housing, sent an email to residents informing them of the change on Jan. 22, a day after students had already moved into the buildings.
“I am reaching out to notify you that there will no longer be Night Desk Assistants in your buildings,” Forbes wrote in the email. “Moving forward, you will not need to sign in your guests, however if you plan to host non-residential guests, the expectations of you as a host remain the same.”
DA duties will not be picked up by any other employees, but CAs will continue to sit in one of the offices in Hausdoerffer or Phelps while on duty. CAs will also continue to patrol the buildings as usual, according to Luke Sacks, head of media relations at the College.
Sacks noted that the need for desk staffing has decreased since upperclassmen sign in less visitors.
“When we originally built and opened Phelps/Hausdoerffer, there were no front desk workers, which is also the case for the Townhouses,” Sacks told The Signal via email. “Juniors and seniors tend to be more mature and do not require an additional level of oversight.”
The policy change comes after offices around the College reduce student worker hours due to budget cuts. While the DAs from the apartments were moved to other locations, this reduced overall possible hours student workers could sign up for.
Delaney Smith, president of the Residence Hall Association and junior journalism and professional writing major, told The Signal that she was “absolutely worried about student jobs.”
“What’s to stop them from taking the DAs out of other buildings?” Smith said. “I feel like it’s not the first place that the budget cut should have affected because this is student safety we’re talking about.”
When asked if the College was planning on removing DAs in other residence halls, Sacks responded “not at this time.”
General reactions from residents verge on the side of disinterest, however, with some saying that the DAs did not do much in the first place.
“To me, it's not like a huge difference,” said Kate Clifford, a junior nursing major who is also a resident in the apartments. “When they were there, you would quickly flash your ID for a second, but they never looked up long enough to actually see the sticker that you lived in [the residence hall].”
Chatterjee agreed, saying that she “personally did not care.”
Students still hold some concerns about the security of the buildings, however.
Chatterjee noted an incident last semester regarding a college aged man who repeatedly spent time in a Phelps Hall lounge searching for a place to stay. Witnesses told Campus Police that the intruder mentioned an intention to “meet girls.”
Clifford agreed, saying that she was “a little bit” concerned about the future security of the apartments.
“I feel like it was more the idea that they were there that would prevent people from trying to come in,” Clifford said. “If word gets around that there's nobody blocking people from getting in and out of the building, I feel like that's what concerns me. But them actually being there doesn't really make much of a difference.”
Even though students have these concerns, Sacks reassured The Signal that Hausdoerffer and Phelps are as safe as ever.
“Campus Police will still monitor the security cameras and conduct patrols per standard protocol. Campus Police may also sit at the front desk and check IDs as staffing and conditions allow,” Sacks told The Signal. “As always, we encourage residents to report suspicious behavior to Campus Police immediately."