Exchange front desk permanently closed

Exchange residence’s front desk permanently closed on June 12 and students living in Exchange will have to access front desk services at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ commonsblock in qʷta:yθǝn lelǝm̓.

Andrew Parr, associate VP of student housing & community services (SHCS), wrote in a statement to The Ubyssey that this change is a result of the upcoming completion of the construction of UBC’s newest residence, Brock Commons South, which will provide homes for another 282 UBC students.

This new residence will also have a front desk and will serve students living in Brock Commons, including Tallwood, Brock North and South and Iona, who all currently access front desk services at Exchange.

Parr also wrote that “[in order] to maintain service levels to students, SHCS aims to have each front desk serve an equal number of students. With the new front desk opening, we need to rebalance services in this area of campus to enhance overall efficiency and provide better support across all areas.”

Simon Ghyselincks, a fifth-year engineering physics student who has lived in Exchange residence since May 2021, was sent an email about the front desk closure on May 15, four weeks before the closure.

“The email itself seemed like they've probably been planning this for a little while, but when they gave out the email, it's a four weeks notice type of thing ... instead of just stating [the change] right away,” Ghyselincks said.

He said students like him use front desk services for a variety of reasons, like receiving parcels, borrowing vacuum cleaners, accessing study rooms, music rooms, recreational activities and for help when students lock themselves out of their rooms.

“You don't lock the door with a key, it's key card access here. So if you just forget the key and the door shuts on itself ... you’re locked out,” said Ghyselincks.

Ghyselincks also expressed some inconvenience with the new desk being in a different building as “now it's across the street,” and weather may also impact the ease of bringing items between the buildings.

Ghyselincks also had the opportunity to talk to a front desk staff member. He said the staff member expressed that they preferred working on the third floor of Exchange more than the new front desk at qʷta:yθǝn lelǝm̓.

“At least from their personal preference, there's a lot more light and it's a lot brighter on the third floor [of Exchange], and they actually really like the space there more.”

“One of the things that seems strange is that it's a large front desk. There's a whole lot of infrastructure there. In terms of the cost-cutting measure, you have an entire physical facility … so it's not clear how it's really cost cutting unless they're just going to be asking the front desk employees to be doing more work for, you know, the same duties that they had before,” said Ghyselincks.

The exchange residence front desk closure follows a trend of UBC cutting services previously offered at residences. Ghyselincks mentioned that the exchange front desk went from 24/7 service to reduced hours about six months ago.

Parr stated that the front desk redistribution “reflects an expansion of housing and related services to students at UBC Vancouver.” However, it is unclear how tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ will be accommodating the influx of students going there for help.

Ghyselincks enjoys living in Exchange but wishes its tenants could have been consulted on this front desk closure beforehand.

“You would be quite shocked to just find out [it was] announced with zero consultation to any of the primary stakeholders, the tenants.”