The Muenster University Center (MUC) is the central hub of USD’s campus, providing not only a gathering place for students but opportunities to work as well. Since the closure of buildings on campus, however, the MUC is no longer staffing any positions with undergraduate students.
On March 27, 25 student workers were told the MUC would no longer staff them due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Doug Wagner, Director of the MUC, said in an email interview with The Volante. These workers include the MUC front desk employees as well as the Student Operations crew. Currently, only 3 graduate students are working in the MUC.
The MUC is operating on reduced hours and is only open to USD students, faculty and staff. Wagner said the decision to stop staffing students has not affected the operation of the MUC.
“We’re obviously shut down to major events, meetings and gatherings,” Wagner said. “We are not currently suffering any loss, but it is definitely different.”
When the MUC reopens to the public, Wagner will work with student employees seeking jobs on a case by case basis, as Wagner said he is not sure what his budget will allow after the pandemic.
Katelyn Ryan, a senior strategic communication and communication studies major and front desk employee, said prior to the closure of campus, front desk hours were modified during USD’s extended spring break and subsequent transition to online classes. Ryan returned to campus for the first week of online classes to work at the desk, which was shut down soon after.
“I went from 16 hours a week to about seven hours a week on the new schedule,” Ryan said. “Shortly after that, they decided to close the MUC, and that’s when we were notified through email about the decision to close the front desk.”
Ryan worked at the front desk through USD’s work-study program. Although her parents helped her with tuition, she said used the money from working the desk to support herself throughout the year. Without the income from the desk, she is unable to carry out her post-graduation plans.
“I was kind of living paycheck to paycheck, so I was trying to save money to go and get another apartment after I graduated, but I am no longer able to do that,” Ryan said.
Kathryn Opitz, a senior accounting major and front desk worker, said although she is financially stable, she still has to work around the absence of front desk income.
“I’m in a pretty lucky position where it’s not a necessity for me to have my job,” Opitz said. “Obviously I have to cut out extra payments for things like bored online shopping. As of right now, everything will be fine, but I’m still missing the extra source of income.”
Opitz said the front desk kept her busy and the loss of her job on top of online classes has been contributing to a sense of boredom.
“I’m kind of going a little stir-crazy now that I don’t have an extra thing to do because I’m still living in Vermillion,” Opitz said. “Not having the job is definitely aiding some quarantine blues.”
While the MUC is operating on reduced hours, custodians are busy sanitizing the building and preparing the space for summer projects, Wagner said. Wagner said he does not know when the MUC will reopen to the public.