Column: An unwelcome Welcome Center
February 21, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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When the Welcome Center opened at the start of the Fall 2016 Semester, my first thought was, “Why do we need this?” Given that the university is now facing a $8 million deficit and it spent $178,000 on the Welcome Center, I have been asking myself this more and more.
Up until last semester, whenever I had a headache due to the strains of the day, I could always count on Outtakes to sell me ibuprofen. Outtakes was a small convenience store in SUL that used to be where the Welcome Center currently resides. Along with assisting me with my headaches, Outtakes was also favored by dorm students who would go there to buy basic groceries and food not sold in the cafeteria or Market @ CLO. Across from Outtakes was a reception desk which essentially did the same functions as the Welcome Center, and also directed calls for people calling the university. Since closing Outtakes, the university’s shuttle service has given students scheduled rides to the grocery store, which I believe was a great idea, but Outtakes should have remained an option due to its convenience even with the addition of grocery store stops. It should have been made in addition to keeping Outtakes due to its convenience. Though I think the Welcome Center is useless and expensive, my main issue with it is what the university does not have now because of the Welcome Center.
The other issue we students are having is the lack of a reception desk. Students are not being directed to the correct people due to the lack of a sufficient reception desk, resulting in confusion, and people who are in charge of handling adding and dropping classes are receiving phone calls meant for a welcome desk receptionist, such as asking where to find the SUL Building.
The new Welcome Center was mainly built to be a better-looking “store-front” front for the Hammond campus. The administration figured that it would be better to have people walk in and see a beautiful welcome center with plasma TVs showing videos of our basketball players alongside photos of our students frolicking through the hallways, rather than Purdue’s version of a 7-Eleven.
The Welcome Center right now is essentially serving as homebase for people giving tours to potential students. Other than that, it essentially does nothing. Whenever I walk past the Welcome Center, the student workers that are in there are not doing anything productive. Usually you’ll see an employee invite their friends in to chat and goof off, and to be honest I don’t blame them because I am not sure what else they could possibly be doing.
The Welcome Center is also supposed to be there so the workers within can answer students’ questions, so now and then a freshman might stop by to ask where to find the lost and found, but that’s about it.
It doesn’t take long after the semester starts for students to know all the areas they need to go, making this service from the Welcome Center useless for the majority of the semester.
I understand that the Welcome Center looks fantastic, and in theory it is a great idea, but it simply does not do as much for students as Outtakes and the reception desk did. Ideally, the Welcome Center should be much more open and should have signs telling students to send their questions there. Since it appears that the students that work there are in need of things to do, perhaps they can help direct calls to the proper people.