Students returning to Keene State College may be surprised that they no longer have to flash their IDs to a desk attendant upon entering their dorm late at night.
Because of recent budget cuts, Keene State College has been forced to dispose of the desk attendant position. “Budget is budget,” Kent Drake-Deese, Director of Residential Life at Keene State College said. The budget cuts are a result of Keene State’s drop in enrollment for the 2015 fall semester. According to data from The University System of New Hampshire published in the Sentinel, there were a total of 1,458 new students admitted in 2014. This year 1,109 new students were admitted, a 23.94 percent decrease. While some students saw desk attendants as an annoying stop on the way home at night, some saw them as a second line of defense against intruders.
“In terms of safety and security…If someone’s alarmed that we don’t have desk attendants, they never were there for [it],” Drake-Deese said. Deese continued, “They’re not trained, they don’t have a badge and they don’t carry guns. They were actually just a monitor.”
The desk attendant was a recent implementation The program started in 2008 and was preceded by a night attendant position.
“There’s nothing unusual about not having them…most Colleges don’t,” Drake-Deese said. The necessity of the job has been in question even before the drop in enrollment. “Even before the budget cut there was a lot of discussion about not having the desk attendants or cutting them back dramatically because there’s no evidence of any kind that suggests that they prevent one thing or the other,” Drake-Deese said. He continued, “We have just as much damage, just as much judicial as we did before…so it didn’t stop that. It wasn’t necessarily intended to stop that.” The death of the desk attendant position has snuffed out a source of income for some students. Former desk attendant Pam Delisme said “I’m a little upset…it was a job and I really needed it.”
“That’s the biggest problem for me,” Drake-Deese said.
He said the biggest problem for him is the cut in student jobs.
Approximately $60,000 went into the program each year. While it might have made some feel better, paying students was not a good enough reason to keep it, Drake-Deese said. “I don’t mind spending money on students and their employment, but I’d like students to get something out of it,” Drake-Deese said. Desk attending is now the responsibility of Resident Assistants (R.A.s) and they do not have to check IDs. “The R.A. sits there and makes sure nobody who looks out of place enters the building,” said an R.A. who wishes to remain anonymous because of contractual obligations.
If someone who does look out of place enters the R.A. stops them and asks for identification, he said.
“With the massive budget cuts I can understand why [desk attending] was one of the positions that needed to go,” the R.A. said. “But making the R.A.s replace that time slot without either getting more compensation or checking the IDs was a very silly move because they don’t actually do anything. The entire point of them sitting there for six hours every night is to sign in guest passes and the only time when those would come into play would be a time when campus safety comes into play.” Students also play a role in the security of their dorms. Dorms like the Owl’s Nests and Pondside Two never had desk attendants. “Ultimately our resident halls are locked, which gives students who live in the building ultimate control over the security,” Drake-Deese said. “Nobody gets into our buildings unless someone who has access lets them in.”
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