Student Night Auxiliary Patrol (SNAP) drivers are objecting to extended nighttime shifts to result from the library atrium’s upcoming transition to a 24-hour study space for students, effective March 25, 2018.
SNAP is a program at GC that allows students to request a safety escort by golf cart in the immediate vicinity of campus at night. It currently functions from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday-Wednesday, 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturdays.
When the library atrium’s new hours go into effect, the library doors will lock at 10 p.m., requiring students to swipe their Bobcat Card. A SNAP officer will sit at a desk near the doors, equipped with a phone to call the police and a panic button in case of emergency.
These SNAP officers’ shifts will run 12-4 a.m. and 4-8 a.m. With these extended hours, many SNAP drivers have found themselves wondering if they will keep their jobs at SNAP, while others are excited to have more hours to make more money.
“A lot of people were surprised, saying ‘I don’t want to do that,’ but then a lot of other people were like ‘cool more hours,’” said SNAP student supervisor Connor Kilch. “[People quitting] is not really the issue because we’re looking to hire more people, because we’re about to lose four or five seniors, so we will hire a new wave in the next month or so.”
Junior Mark Chadwick, an environmental science major, said he does not mind the transition.
“It’s just not too difficult of a job,” Chadwick said. “Nice hours, I don’t have any conflicts with class, and I enjoy the people I work with. [Drivers are upset] probably because they don’t want to work an overnight shift with little incentive honestly.”
Other drivers do not echo Chadwick’s optimism.
“I’m not very happy about it,” said junior Natalie Capps, a nursing major. “We have to work from 12 to four and four to eight, and I’m in nursing school, so I have to be at clinicals sometimes at six in the morning. There’s really not a point for us to be there, in my opinion, because we don’t have a connection to the police.”
Junior Dylan Borst, an English major and a SNAP supervisor, said that SNAP supervisors are doing their best to accommodate employees amid the transition.
“Our goal for this atrium being opened 24-hours is kind of like to work as a team to make sure people don’t get overloaded with library hours,” Borst said. “So potentially you would only have to work two library shifts every two weeks. And if they can’t work the library shifts, they can tell us, and we can work around their schedule…and we’re going to do our best to make sure everyone pitches in.”
Borst said the SNAP drivers found out about the final decision like everyone else on campus.
“We knew [the opening of the atrium] would happen because Lieutenant Purvis had been communicating with us and the library about perhaps opening the library again,” Borst said. “We did not know for sure until the library sent us an email informing us they would need more officers to work more hours, and then Mike sent out the official email to everyone.”
Fellow SNAP officer Sean Montgomery, a senior mass communication major, agreed.
“It’s crazy because they didn’t even ask us,” Montgomery said. “Personally, I don’t think enough people use [the atrium]. “We work nine to one, and there’s literally maybe 20 people in the library. As for us as students, we should have definitely had more input on the situation, than it just being passed and hearing news about it, without giving any input or knowing that it was going to happen.”
Lieutenant Gary Purvis, the GC Public Safety officer who oversees SNAP, said that part of the process will be hiring new officers to cover the hours and that he was notified beforehand.
“They did tell me we had to do the new hours but asked if we would be able to and willing to do it,” Purvis said. “I asked our SNAP supervisor, and he stated that we should be able to. We are in the process of hiring two new SNAP officers to aid in this.”
Capps said that SNAP has only six radios, and that one of those is not working, so it has been standard practice to not bring a radio to the library.
Purvis also mentioned the broken radio, stating that it does not hinder operations and that it will be fixed.
“Unfortunately repairs like this don’t happen overnight,” Purvis explained. “We are going through our budget request right now for the next school year, and we will ensure to request funds for new radios to ensure we have extras in cases where they are damaged.”
It should also be noted that the radios used by SNAP officers and the SNAP dispatcher on duty are not cheap, running upwards of $800 per radio. They are the same radios used by GC Public Safety officers, as well as the Milledgeville Police Department officers. They have a built-in scanner and can talk directly to the police in the event of an emergency.
Foster, however, as a SNAP employee, doesn’t think this is a sufficient solution.
“As of right now, we don’t carry a police radio,” Foster said. “But if there was an emergency situation at the library, we would actually be pretty powerless to do anything because one, we don’t have the radio, and two, all we could do is call the dispatch at GCPD, with the normal emergency phone number, which anyone could do.”
Foster said the shift is SOMETHING because the officer on duty gets paid to simply sit by the door, but he doesn’t feel that having a SNAP officer at the library helps anyone.
“I don’t know if SGA considered the fact that SNAP people come from a large variety of majors of varying difficulties, varying schedules,” said freshman Ben Foster, a chemistry major. “I mean we’re students too. It’s just very hard for me to believe that SGA did this decision because I did an overnight shift during finals week when the atrium went 24/7, and after 1 a.m., it got pretty dead.”
Foster said he witnessed periods when he was the only person in the library, even during finals week, so he couldn’t imagine that people would use the atrium during those hours when it’s not finals week.
However, SGA President Mike Muller said students had been telling him that they needed a 24-hour study space on campus, so the library atrium’s designation as such is the highlight of his administration.
“What I did personally was bring the idea to the administration,” Muller said. “We showed them surveys and things like that, and I brought that to the administration. The administration from then on out had to decide how they were going to implement it.”
GC Provost Kelli Brown confirmed Muller’s statement.
“The SGA President Mike Muller came forward and requested that we take a look again, because we had done this a couple years ago, in keeping the library open 24/7,” Brown said. “We looked at the previous data and decided that we didn’t have all the information we needed to make an informed decision, so we decided to reopen it again 24/7.”
Brown said her goal was to collect very specific data to help administration understand when the space is being used, as well as high-traffic times. The purpose of reopening the library from March 25, 2018, to the end of finals week in Spring 2018, is to collect this data to then make an informed decision about how long the library should stay open in the future.
“The library director worked with the SNAP coordinator to arrange for SNAP, and then I provided the resources to pay for SNAP officers during that time, and that came out of my budget,” Brown said.
According to SGA’s Facebook page, the new hours of the bottom floor library atrium will begin March 25, 2018. The new space will be open 24 hours, Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, it will close at 6 p.m, reopen Saturdays at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. that Saturday night. On Sundays, the library will open at noon and will not close.