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Penland front desk caters to all

Nov. 5, 2004

By PETER ANZOLLITTO, staff writer

The Penland Residence Hall front desk is a place where community leaders monitor the hall, help residents with any number of needs and assist the hall directors with administrative duties -- most of the time. Today, Bill Brown, a Danbury senior and community leader, and John Salazar, Penland Residence Hall director, are having a conversation about "chupacabras."

"So, it's like a Bigfoot, right?" Brown questioned Salazar.

The Penland front desk has become an interesting mix of business and pleasure. Aside from the typical tasks that the front desk requires -- loaning keys, receiving gifts for residents and answering the phone -- CLs take advantage of their high-traffic location to engage students in conversation.

Robert Shaw | Lariat staff
(From left to right) Sophomore Holly Gordon, an office assistant; junior Eric Kingsbury, a community leader; and sophomore Nathaniel Ball, a community leader, work the front desk at Penland Residence Hall. At the front desk, community leaders monitor the hall, assist residents and help hall directors with administrative duties.
"The Waco Tribune-Herald and the Lariat are right next to the desk, so it's easy to talk about current events and issues with the guys when they come to pick those up," Brown said.

"CLs help to create a community atmosphere while at the front desk by just talking to the residents and having a rapport with them," Salazar said. "A lot of the men who live here just come up to talk to them when they're working." Brown and Salazar estimated that about five residents come by the front desk each hour, but that number is much higher during lunch and dinner.

Residents visiting the front desk will rarely encounter a single CL.

Though only one works at a time, there are usually at least two or three keeping him company. "I'll generally stop by to say 'hi' to whoever's working," Brad Roop, a Grapevine freshman and Penland resident, said. Today Roop is showing Brown the T-shirt he just bought that touts Baylor's recent victory over Texas A&M University.

Though fun at times, the front desk is a workplace. "There was one time we saw a girl trying to go up the stairs after visiting hours. We told her to stop -- that it was too late -- but she just looked at us and then sprinted up the stairs," Brown said. "We had to literally chase her down." Andrew Hejtmanek, a Shreveport, La., junior and Brooks Residence Hall CL, said some CLs are very productive during their desk hours.

"I have two four-hour shifts a week. I have a quiet time and finish my homework every week at the desk," Hejmanek said.

"The desk is a place of unparalleled authority," Todd Blount, a Walker, La., junior and Penland CL, said. "When you sit down in [the chair behind the desk] people know you are a somebody."