U of A Will Be 'Mostly Closed' Until Next Year
Winter break lasts until Jan. 2, but not for everyone on campusThursday, December 20, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Fall semester classes and exams are finished at the University of Arkansas and most – but not all – students have left the campus. The U of A itself is officially on winter break from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, with most offices, buildings and operations closed – but again, not all of them.
A small number of students remain on campus during the winter break: international students who are not able to go home, student athletes who are playing or training over the holiday, members of the Razorback Band and other students who choose to stay on campus. Three residence halls – the Northwest Quad, Holcomb Hall and Gregson Hall stay open during the break to house these students. When it comes to meals, however, the students are on their own – none of the dining halls on campus are open and most of the food service businesses are also closed for the holidays. The residence halls do have small kitchens, or at least microwave ovens, so students can prepare their own meals if they want.
This means that the resident assistants, resident hall director and a few maintenance workers assigned to these buildings are needed to work while the rest of the university is on break. That is not unusual for University Housing, however. It is one of several offices on campus that operates all day, every day of the year. The housing service center is located in Pomfret Hall and serves as the primary contact point for all incoming calls, maintenance requests, and emergency contact with housing staff and residence hall students. The center also provides around the clock monitoring of the outside doors on all university residence halls. Housing also employs foot patrol “rovers” who work from 8 p.m. – 4 a.m., even during the holidays. They provide security checks outside all residence halls, and during the break, they also do interior checks to make sure there are no problems in the halls. In addition, the service center has an on-call maintenance technician and service assistants if needed, holiday or any other time.
University of Arkansas Police officers are probably the largest group of people who will be working every day of the winter break. But they are definitely not alone.
For example, University Information Technology Services operators in the Data Center also work in shifts all day, every day, making sure all the campus data systems are running and reporting errors if they happen. Their job includes monitoring all of the environmental infrastructure elements such as the air conditioning system and backup generator essential to keeping the data systems online.
On the first official day of the winter break, Saturday, Dec. 22, three IT specialists will be taking advantage of the holiday to work on updates to the ISIS system. And, all through the break, at least 10 people will be on-call if any of the university computer systems and application programs need attention. IT workers will also monitor the email address for Blackboard help and respond to questions during the break, since Global Campus will have online classes going on during the break.
Facilities management’s utilities plant operators also work a three-shift rotation “24/7/365” to keep the lights and heat working on campus. Several workers will come in to work during the break to walk through all the major facilities, and if the temperatures outside get too cold, there will be more of those walk-throughs. In addition staff members from the various trade departments are on call in case of any emergency.
Two members of the custodial staff are also on call if needed.
The University Farm is not quite as high-tech as IT Services, and doesn’t necessarily require a 24-hour day, but like most agricultural work it definitely involves working seven days a week and 365 days a year. Faculty, students and staff of the Division of Agriculture and Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences care for thousands of chickens in 15 chicken houses, about 350 cattle and a substantial number of pigs and sheep – not to mention some 10 greenhouses filled with a variety of plants. The houses – green and chicken – have to be checked regularly, the inhabitants fed and watered, and there is a certain amount of cleaning to be done. Loss of heat in either type of house can be deadly for the inhabitants. Other livestock may not need to be checked every day unless the weather turns more severe, but at least every other day someone will need to make sure everything is all right. This is especially true for plants and animals that are part of research projects – which means nearly all of the plants and animals on campus. Graduate students and faculty will be spending at least a few hours, at least most days, working on their research.
This holds true for many research projects in the sciences side of Fulbright College and the College of Engineering as well: experiments need to be monitored, results measured, and that often means working on a holiday. It also means the staff members who work in the lab buildings will need to do regular safety and security checks of their own. This doesn’t necessarily mean eight-hour work days, but it isn’t exactly “vacation,” either.
It’s a similar story at the Admissions office. The winter holiday is a prime time for high school students to intensify their college searches, and that means of steady flow of emails or Facebook question to the Admissions office asking for information. Sometimes the college that can give a timely answer is the college that gets the student. It doesn’t mean working all day, but several members of competitive admissions staff will be found in their offices at least a few hours a day during the winter break.
Ironically, recreation is the reason another large group of staff will be working during the winter break. The HPER building and pool will operate on a reduced schedule, during the vacation, closing only Dec. 24-26 and Jan. 1. The building staff will work three shifts a day, with 10-14 full- and part-time staff members working each shift. Building supervisors are in charge of making sure daily operations are running smoothly, while facilities assistants monitor the three HPER entrances, lifeguards supervise the HPER pool, service center attendants provide equipment, information, laundry services, and reservations for HPER patrons and fitness center assistants monitor the safety of the exercise equipment and the people using the center.
The athletics department will also keep students, staff and fans busy. The students – including band members – playing in or attending men’s and women’s basketball games, the coaches leading the teams, and the staff working at Bud Walton Arena will all have their jobs to do. The women’s basketball team is playing on Dec. 21 and 28, the men on Dec. 22 and 29.
For all the university students, faculty and staff on campus during the break, probably the most activity will be on the various construction projects. Contractors and their crews are expected to be on the job every day except Christmas and New Year, taking advantage of the chance to work on the mostly closed and empty campus.
Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
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