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Friday, September 24, 2021

Memorial Union information desk closed

Maybe you’ve noticed – or maybe you haven’t – that the information desk in the Memorial Union has closed.

Many visitors never stopped once at the small corner space that used to employ students to answer questions and give directions. Yet the desk closed earlier this month, reflecting the tangible effects that budget cuts have had on the campus’ ability to operate its most basic functions.

“Based on budgets and the ability to make most information available via maps, campus phones and the Internet, I proposed that we temporarily close the information center while we assess the function and efficiency of the space,” said Justin Ling, the Assistant Director of Marketing for Campus Unions. “We are in the process of installing an Internet kiosk … and there is a campus phone at the info center which is free to use.”

Other parts of the information center have been relocated, not closed. The lost and found section is now located downstairs in the MU games area.

“We get a decent amount of [lost and found items], but it doesn’t seem like too many people know about it,” said Ton Saelee, a MU games area employee.

While the Information Center will probably never return in quite the same form, the new and revised space will be at least as helpful and less of a drain on a strained budget.

However, many students have not noticed the desk’s absence.

“It’s closed? Since when?” said Joe Sasto, a senior communication major, who hadn’t realized the Information Center was even gone.

Most students seemed fairly indifferent to the idea that they would have to find information about building locations and campus phone numbers on their own.

“To be honest, the only time I ever asked a question, they didn’t know the answer,” Sasto said. “They could easily come up with something better to put there instead.”

The desk will have students on staff for the first two weeks of each quarter, as well as during large conferences or events that are expected to bring large groups of people to the MU. Otherwise, the new staff-less information desk space might be used by other organizations.

“If we can combine that [information center] service with something else, we are all for it,” Ling said. “There has been talk about making the space available to Picnic Day or having the Center for Student Involvement [formerly known as SPAC] use the space.”

Progress has been somewhat slow, however, Campus Unions officials will meet next week to discuss the possibility of extending the staffed duration of the desk or of limited hours during weekdays. The center is unlikely to begin running again before the end of this quarter.

People with questions should call the Beuhler Alumni and Visitor Center at (530) 754-9195. Faculty and staff can also be reached by calling the campus operator at (530) 752-1101.

BRIAN GERSON can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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