‘Weirdly enough, it is a good time:’ A night in the life of a UK dorm desk clerk

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Pedro Fonseca

As the nights go by at the University of Kentucky, while many are asleep, there are some students, desk clerks and resident advisers who stay awake at the front desk at the dorms.

“I know some desk clerks, they are night people, so they like being up late at night,” said Domonique Cudjo, the Resident Director at Woodland Glen II. “Working late or working early in the morning is convenient for them, they get some time to study, or they’re night owls, and already up, so it works for them,” Cudjo said.

According to UK’s Director of the Office of Residence Life, Trisha Clement, the University currently has between 80 and 90 desk clerks, and 215 resident advisers.

Every dorm’s front desk is staffed 24 hours, 7 days a week and, when the night comes, and office assistants are not in the buildings, students step up for the job.

The shifts between midnight and 4 a.m., and 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. generally have desk clerks, but some resident advisers also take these slots. When the desk clerks cannot go for any reason, an RA who is on call also enters the picture. One of the RAs, Gavin Brackett, has been doing it every Thursday this semester.

“Weirdly enough, it is a good time. I just have to show up, not a lot is happening at 3 a.m.,” Brackett said.

Brackett said that being at the desk late at night is actually relaxing.

“You’re dedicating this time for yourself. I can just sit here, watch a movie, read a book,” he said.

At the same time, he also has to be aware of everyone who walks through the doors.

“You pick up the switch tasking ability,” Brackett said. “You learn to look up, ask for last name and room number, and back to what you’re doing.”

Brackett said that President Eli Capilouto once came into his residence hall during the night dressed in a blue tracksuit. At the beginning of the semester, while Brackett was behind the desk, alongside a resident who was working on flyers for the Student Council presidency, President Capilouto stopped by and gave advice to the student, Brackett said.

“He’ll just walk into the dorms, cruising in here, says hi,” he said.

Another RA who takes some late night shifts, Gabriela Torres, said it’s rare that something happens. “The 4-8 a.m. shift is the only shift that you’re guaranteed to not be bothered,” Torres said.

Since there is not much going on, and very few people to check in, she said she gets her homework done or watches a movie.

“It sucks because of how early it is, but it’s not too bad,” Torres said.

To be able to stay awake, Torres tries to take a nap before the shift between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. depending on what she has going on the night before and goes to sleep after it.

“You kind of break it up, but it’s not a full night’s rest,” she said.

Brackett said you have to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. At first, he struggled with that and was constantly falling asleep in classes, but eventually, he learned how to deal with it.

“There is certainly a learning curve to it, you really have to budget your sleeping,” Brackett said.

Another factor that these students may face is having to juggle their schedule and their social life.

“You miss out on stuff, and that’s a pretty big bummer,” Brackett said. “But if I really want to go out, I can try to find someone to cover the shift.”

“It’s not necessarily the time commitment for this job, it’s that the time commitment is so spread out,” Torres said.

Though the position may be tough in this aspect, the students still get to have fun and interesting experiences.