In the spirit of democracy, I strive to serve the students by sharing honest information about beneficial services offered around UAA’s campus. As a reporter, I’ve gained behind the scenes access to several campus offices and have found a bounty of treasures in resources and services from staff members. I often offer contact information for campus resources at the end of my articles, especially when I find it is worth sharing. My latest quest was to retrieve useful information from the Commuter Student Services office located in the Student Union. I read over their webpage and was excited to see that one of their services is to “provide services that will help students not only find places to live off campus but the services that come with off campus housing.” When I asked my friends around campus about this, not one of them heard of this. I was elated to spread the word.
It was a Wednesday afternoon. I called Commuter Student Services Coordinator David Murdoch and left a message. I called the main desk phone number and was transferred to voicemail. I called the next day, also. Voicemail. I finally got a hold of Dana Sample, Student Union Operations Coordinator. Her name is on the website and is supplied by the front desk as a second point of contact if Murdoch is unreachable. She was incredibly helpful but leery about speaking on behalf of Murdoch. She told me he was in Homer and assured me she would contact him and have him call me. She also offered to supply information if absolutely needed.
It was Friday when Murdoch called me as Sample promised. I apologized for bothering him while he was in Homer and assured him I would only take a few minutes of his time to get basic information to share with students.
He asked, “I got your message Wednesday; how come you came to me so late?”
Every office I’ve called while reporting has either gotten back with me the same day or has promised to have someone in the office assist me. I never thought to call a week in advance to get basic information about a student service. Even the busiest office managers apologize for not being able to assist me, a student who pays tuition and taxes, in a timely manner if they couldn’t. I’ve also never had a coordinator tell me, “I got your message two days ago, but why didn’t you call earlier?” In this instance, I found myself apologizing to him for having to go around the world to get basic information when I shouldn’t have to. No students should have to.
I offered to use the alternative contact, Sample. He insisted that I speak to him and only him, not Sample.
“I will call you tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest,” Murdoch said.
I kept my phone glued to my hip the entire night. The next morning came and still no call. I called and texted him and received no response. He did not follow through.
At that point, I would have rather gotten anything from Sample, but Murdoch didn’t want me to.
I decided to call the numbers offered on the website. The first apartment office I called was surprised they were on the website and said they “absolutely do not work with college students with no rental history.”
The second person I contacted said she didn’t want people to see her name in our paper, even though it was listed as someone renting out to students on a link found on Commuter Student Service’s web page.
The apartment manager’s office at Weidner Apartment Homes was a diamond in the rough and offered a great deal of information and I recommend them to any college student looking to rent. That was one positive experience.
It has been four days of this hassle, and I still have not heard from Murdoch about the basic services offered to students involving off campus living. Perhaps Murdoch’s phone died. Perhaps he got into an accident. Perhaps he’s a nice guy. There are a dozen possible scenarios, but one thing is for certain.
My strongest skill is to write about the quality of services worth sharing around campus, and the quality of this service is worth sharing. When Murdoch doesn’t return phone calls from The Northern Light reporters, he is not holding out on me. He is holding out on every student at this university who could benefit from reading the article.
He is holding out on you.