Residence hall front desk hours shift again

Freshman Xavier Turner passes RA and desk attendant, junior Cat Costello, on his way into Griesedieck Hall. Curtis Wang/ University News Archives

Freshman Xavier Turner passes RA and desk attendant, junior Cat Costello, on his way into Griesedieck Hall. Curtis Wang/ University News Archives

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Policies seek to improve safety and student workers’ hours

Student voices were heard and confronted last week after much outcry against housing security policies. Student Government Association President Matt Ryan released a statement on Feb. 17 announcing reforms to the much-maligned security switch.

On Dec. 5, it was announced that residence hall front desks would be monitored 15 hours per day, as opposed to the previous 24-hour protection provided by Whelan Security. The changes called for student workers to man front desks from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. The security changes did not affect the back door of Griesedieck Hall or the front desk of Reinert Hall, which retained 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage.

Freshman Xavier Turner passes RA and desk attendant, junior Cat Costello, on his way into Griesedieck Hall. Curtis Wang/ University News Archives

Students quickly objected to the changes, expressing concern that the buildings would not be covered by security 24 hours per day.

Student desk worker Greg Bouche felt uneasy at the prospect of unwanted visitors accessing the dormitories.

“This knowledge, if given to the wrong people, could quickly lead to having unauthorized personnel lurking in our residence halls,” Bouche said.

A Dec. 5 statement issued by Saint Louis University’s Department of Housing and Residence Life  attempted to ease the concerns of the student body.

“Overall, the campus is patrolled 24/7 by armed and well-trained officers,” the statement said.

The message outlined the modifications that eliminated services from Whelan Security. The changes also heightened the responsibilities of student workers, which they had no choice but to accept mid-semester.

In addition to apprehension of part-time security, other issues resulted from the changes in housing security. Without a desk worker available at all hours, obtaining a lockout key posed a problem. Unanticipated difficulties, such as an inoperative key, also became larger issues than under the previous system because of limited means of making contact with someone with the authority to help in such situations.

According to Ryan’s Feb. 17 message, after “weeks of discussions with administrators throughout the University,” a plan to have student desk workers present at all time came into place. In addition, Facilities Management ensured that all SLU ID card readers would be fully functioning to bolster security efforts.

Ryan also said that the Department of Public Safety and Security Services will “maintain constant contact” with desk workers.

Ryan’s statement showed gratitude towards the Department of Housing and Residence Life student staff for their willingness to serve the SLU community. Student desk workers are required to work at least one shift per week between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“Many of these members are taking greater responsibility and longer hours with these changes,” Ryan said. “They have put our community first, and they deserve our gratitude.”

For Bouche, the revised desk security policies still have an adverse affect on student desk workers.

“The late night hours completely throw off a student’s sleep schedule, and I believe that these late desk shifts will lead to student desk workers doing more poorly in their classes,” Bouche said. “Since we are first and foremost students here, there should be some thought into trying to help the students out with this, especially when one has a test the next day.”

In his statement, Ryan stressed the need for proactive work by the Residence Hall Association and SGA to restore 24-hour desk security. He also said that the administration has the students’ best interests at heart.

“I hope this can serve as another example of the need for a strong student voice on our campus,” Ryan said. “Although, at times, it may have seemed that students’ concerns were not being heard, we were working with an administration that knew students’ safety came first.”