New Late Night hours balance work, life for employees 

Courtesy of Karl Rabe via Vassar Stories

Late Night, a place where students sit sparingly in the cafeteria and enjoy warm mozzarella sticks, has become a popular hangout spot. According to Resident District Manager of Vassar’s dining service Bon Appetit, Steve Scardina, last year around 100 students on average visited Gordon Commons nightly between the hours of 12 a.m. and 1 a.m. to meet friends, study and enjoy the eponymous snacks. Late Night, which began at 9 p.m., originally allowed students to enjoy hot meals while hanging out in the Gordon Commons until as late as 1 a.m. While students enjoyed these extended hours, the work schedule required burdened Gordon Commons employees. Those assigned to the late shift could typically expect to leave around 2 a.m. 

In a recent email to the student body, Dean of the College Carlos Alamo Pastrana announced that, in order to create a better work/life balance for Gordon Commons employees, the Late Night hours will still begin at 9 p.m., but will be cut by two hours on weekdays and one hour on weekends for the 2019-2020 school year. Now, weekday Late Night provisions are available until 11 p.m., with the building closing at midnight, and weekend Late Night will serve food until 12 a.m., with the building closing at 1 a.m. 

Scardina described how management had been observing trends in Late Night since its inception in 2017, to see how they could make slight changes that would minimally impact students. “The schedule should allow for a better work/life balance as they come in earlier in the afternoon and aren’t leaving at 2 a.m. The change didn’t cut hours or eliminate hours,” explained Scardina. 

A beloved Gordon Commons employee of 18 years, Precious Manning, who currently works the late-night shift at the Sweets station, is pleased she can return home earlier, and noted how these changes will allow employees to work without sacrificing their personal lives. 

“Some of [the employees] have younger children, and thought the hours were too late,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m working too late at night, and then I’m not getting enough sleep. But, I still need the money so I need the work. Making this change is good.”

“We have to feed you guys, and we try our best.”

– Precious Manning

Further, Manning expressed how ending the Late Night hours earlier will help during the winter months, as heavy snowfall often makes driving home late at night challenging.

“When it snows, it’s really tough for us,” she said. “I drive, and then if the snow falls really hard, I can’t come to work. So I have to use sick time, because you’re not going to come in if you can’t get home. With the earlier hours, it’s easier to get home.” 

“We have to feed you guys, and we try our best,” said Manning.  

Kenji Nikaido ’20, who worked at the Gordon Commons in September and October of last year, noted how this change benefits the employees and minimally impacts students.

“The changes make sense from a shift standpoint and give flexibility with cleaning,” Nikaido indicated via email. By ending food prep at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. and remaining open to students for an additional hour, employees gain the ability to start cleaning up the space earlier. Meanwhile, students can remain nestled in their booths almost as late as they did before. 

While many students sympathize with the employees, several students have also expressed frustration at the shortened Late Night hours. 

Self-described Late Night-er Noah Alpers ’22 brought up how just in his first week of classes he has missed having the Gordon Commons open until 1 a.m. 

 “I respect their mission, but at the same time I have a terrible college sleep schedule and I end up feeling mildly irritated that I can’t get food at 12:30[a.m.],” Alpers said. “I felt the impact in that I’ve walked over to the Commons many times and it has been closed, but this change is for the greater good, so I will adjust.”

However, Nikaido acknowledged that these new hours don’t dramatically impact students’ eating schedule.

“[O]ur slight inconvenience for a better life for all the Gordon Commons employees, including my ol’ Kiosk managers Brian and Precious? Priceless.” Nikaido said. “The hours are not that different, especially since you’ll still be able to stay until 12 a.m. or 1 a.m. and there’s a good chance food will be left out and drink machines/ice cream will be around.” 

Other students understood shortening the weekday hours, but argued that the Gordon Commons should serve food until 1 a.m. on weekends, as that’s when students tend to stay out and crave late night stomach fillers.

“It’s important to be fair to the workers, but I think them cutting [the hours] on the weekends, particularly Friday and Saturday, is problematic because that’s when it gets used a lot,” said Maya Pelletier ’22. “I think we as students need to make concessions around the weekdays, because we can get over that, but maybe if they had shortened the weekday hours and kept the weekend hours, that would be better.”

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