STORY BY SARAH MONDELLO
It’s 2 a.m. The halls are silent and not a soul is around except for a single person diligently working behind a desk.
Then, the air is filled with a sudden shrieking. The worker must leave the post to deactivate it.
At this hour, someone attempted to exit the building and consequently set off the alarm to the “entrance only” doors on the first floor of a residence hall at Drake University.
It is up to the worker to take care of it, lest it awaken the whole floor.
This worker is a member of the not-so-widely known division of the working class: the late shift.
But the veil doesn’t have to remain so tightly held around this late-night post.
Many businesses, restaurants, corporations and universities across the country have one. It’s the position that any stand-up, working citizen may fulfill, but they either love it or hate it, depending on their schedule. People often ask them how they can stand to work those hours, for in the eyes of a day position, it’s the most loathed position — unless they’re nocturnal.
Or is it?
“Some of the positives of my position and having late night calls and fulfilling late night duties is just it’s additional interaction with students that isn’t maybe their typical reaction,” said Stalnaker Hall Coordinator Leah Reuber. “I get an additional perspective of them, and that’s really nice.”
However, there are downsides.
“It’s not a normal sleep schedule. Sometimes you get interrupted. Sometimes you have to attend to things that you didn’t expect to. But luckily the position, because it’s a live-in position for the University, Residence Hall Coordinators have a lot of flexibility with that,” Reuber said.
All the residence halls have a 24/7 front desk employed by student receptionists and most have a full-time receptionist. These students are permitted to do homework on the job, as long as there is no one to be attended to.
“For the desk employees who work the evening shifts, it’s a really great time for them to earn money and work on campus and also have time to also work on their studies at the same time,” Reuber said.
Desk worker Margot Stevens agreed with Reuber.
“I work at the Stalnaker Reception desk from 3 to 5 a.m. on Sundays and 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Monday mornings. In the very early morning, there’s not a whole lot that goes on, especially for the front desk people,” Stevens said. “It’s always good to be there in case there’s some sort of problem or just to supervise the front door. However, at three in the morning not much of this happens since most people are in bed, so there will be an occasional person who got locked out and have to let them in and sign them in.”
Reuber also stressed another added bonus to the job.
“Entrance to the building calms down a little bit now that we have the key card access,” Reuber said.
Pre-Pharmacy major Kianna Adcock works the front desk and likes the job.
“I like working because you get to do your homework at the front desk, and I literally watch movies if it’s late. You can watch movies because there’s no one really coming by. And it’s quiet, too,” Adcock said. “It’s kind of nice because you’re right at the front, so when people walk in they talk to you. Like, most of my friends see me and they come talk to me, which I really like that ’cause then I don’t have to just sit there and do nothing.”
As far as crazy stories of nightlife in the residence halls, Reuber explained her late-night experiences as an RHC.
“Residence Hall Coordinators’ positions are kind of atypical as far as the hours we work and when we’re getting called for things,” Reuber said. “I’ve kind of learned to expect anything, so that means that I don’t really expect anything in particular, specifically with my position. And the things I do see I can’t really speak about or elaborate on due to student privacy and things like that, but sometimes you do get the errant alarm.”
Reuber will admit she has had some weird experiences at her job.
“I would say those are the most common ones that are kind of weird. It’s just people randomly getting locked out for different things. The door alarm going off is a big one this year just because it’s a complete change from previous years,” Reuber said.
Overall, the RHC and receptionists appear to be content with their break-of-dawn jobs.
“I don’t really have a problem with it,” Adcock said. “I’m used to staying up until midnight, so it’s not a big deal.”
Reuber stressed the uniqueness of the job.
“It’s just a really unique position and I don’t think a lot of positions necessarily are like that, or at least have some of those intricacies that it does,” Reuber said.