Op-ed: New Depot hours do not work for students

by Bryce Johnson
edited by Alex Thenin

There have been a number of changes in the Depot but there is one very important change that impacts many students, the hours have been cut dramatically from last year.

The Depot is an important resource for many students as it is where students go to rent out camera and audio equipment, and are given access to the video editing suites in the Fitzwater Center.

Last year the Depot was open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. This schedule worked well for most students as they were able to go to the Fitzwater Center and rent out and return equipment, edit video in the editing suites and get help or a second opinion from the Depot attendant on duty.

(Photo: Bryce Johnson)

This year, the hours have been cut to just noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. No weekend hours, no hours in the evening, no one to reference if someone has trouble with a project.

The Depot employees were a valuable resource to students because they are students. Most were Communications majors who had gone through the same projects, same classes and same problems as the students they were helping. They had a wealth of knowledge about editing, graphics and other aspects of video production. Their impact cannot be undersold.

However, with the new hours the students lack this resource. Most video production projects are done in groups. With classes, sports practices and extracurricular activities, the best time for these groups to meet to work is in the evening. What if they encounter problems? Or maybe they just want a second set of ears and eyes from someone who is knowledgeable.

Morgan Baker, the Grad Student for the Pierce Media Group, gave 3 reasons for the change, “Part of the reason we limited the Depot hours is due to a budget cut within the Fitzwater Center budget, cutting funding to most student workers at the Fitz. Another part is that we are trying to funnel student use (of the Depot) into more condensed hours. Also, we do not want our workers to be working unsupervised.”

Budget cuts are a fair excuse. However, there is no excuse for doubling up on hours. Baker works generally from about noon to 6 p.m. Depot attendants also work noon to 6 p.m. If there is such a lack of funding, then why is the Fitzwater Center paying two people to do the same job at the same time? Baker can easily take care of any students that come in during those hours. The 30 hours for student workers would be utilized much better if the hours got extended. Keeping the Depot open to 10 p.m. on the weekdays and opening it from noon to 4 p.m. on the weekends then it would work better for students.

Then there is “funneling” student use into the 6-hour time frame that it is open per day. This would be fine if the Depot only rented out equipment. However, the Depot also controls the editing suites in the Fitzwater Center. The editing suites are a great resource for students as it gives themselves or their group a quiet space where they can work on their projects without distraction. The Journalism Computer Lab is nice but if you have 3 or 4 groups working on their projects in there it is very easy to get distracted.

As for students working unsupervised, these are mature, responsible adults, not 12-year old’s. One would hope the Depot attendants can handle sitting at a desk checking out cameras without supervision: they have been for years.

I acknowledge that there were some issues with how the Depot was run last year. At times, there were a few individual workers who took advantage of the faith put in them to work nights and weekends by skipping shifts without notice or reason. I know this because I was there and I experienced it on both ends as both a worker and a student. However, why must the needs of the many be disregarded in favor of the irresponsibility of the few?

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