On Dec. 19, the offices at Mills College will close as staff members begin their mandatory furloughs to help alleviate the College’s $3.5 million deficit. The College will reopen on Jan. 9.
According to Dorothy Calimeris, Director of Auxiliary Services, the College typically closes on Dec. 23 or 24.
During Winter Break, students will not have access to staff members from the M Center or Housing Management and Dining Services (HMDS).
“We were definitely told we were not supposed to be here, not supposed to come to work,” said M Center Operations Manager Deborah Long. “All the electricity is going to be off, computers are going to be off, phones unplugged, printers — stuff like that. We’ve been instructed that we’re not working, so we’re not checking email at all.”
Some students, such as junior Angelica Addison, have expressed concern over the inability to connect with staff members over the break.
“In a way I am concerned. It’s important to stay up to date, especially with our finances,” Addison said. “But I’m not trying to get stressed about it.”
Due to the furlough dates extending past the normal tuition payment deadline, the M Center has extended the deadline for tuition payments, according to Long.
“We didn’t want to just keep the payment deadline as is when we won’t be here,” Long said. “Normally, the payment deadline is Jan. 2, so we are extending (it) to Jan. 9. At least on the ninth the phones will be on, so anyone who’s having trouble or wasn’t clear on something or needed to make special arrangements can contact us (then).”
Long also explained that although students may not be able to reach staff members in the M Center over the break, students can still call or email the M Center if they are having problems with their tuition payments.
“Even if we can’t return all the phone calls on that day (Jan. 9), we do have the record that someone contacted us and they tried to get in touch with us,” Long said. “As far as late fees (go), we are very lenient with people who communicate with us, so anyone who has contacted us, for example by e-mail, over the break…We wouldn’t assess any late fees if they contacted us. Late fees are really reserved for people that just don’t communicate with us at all.”
Although many services will be unavailable to students over the break, Calimeris said the furloughs shouldn’t affect students.
“As far as the students are concerned, there should be no break in services,” Calimeris said. “If we’re doing our job right, there should be no visible break. It should seem pretty seamless.”
However, Calimeris did explain that the furloughs will increase the amount of work staff members will have when they return in January.
“We’re more concerned about the coming back piece of it because a lot of our information doesn’t get to us until January, like who’s coming back to campus or who new students are that are going to be living on campus,” Calimeris said. “It’s just internally, we’re going to have to work harder and faster because we’re only going to have essentially a week (before students return).”
In addition to the M Center and HMDS, the Tea Shop and Founders will be closed.
“I just want to make sure that everybody knows that’s all going to be shut down,” Calimeris said. “The Tea Shop will reopen on Jan. 9 for faculty, staff and early arrivals. And then everything goes back up again.”
During the furlough days, students living in independent housing — such as the Courtyard Townhouses and Prospect Hill Apartments —— who choose to remain on campus will have access to the Residential Director on duty as well as facilities and Public Safety.
“The Residential Directors and Public Safety staff will be here to support any student requests,” said Director of Residential Life Monique Young. “As far as support, if there were something that needed to be fixed in the apartments, any after-hours or holiday calls for repairs are handled through the on-call facilities support staff which Public Safety will have access to.”
Calimeris added that there are policies in place, should an actual emergency arise.
“There are emergency rooms available. You’d talk to Residential Life and they work with Public Safety to get the keys. It’s all stuff we have policies for, so I can’t really imagine any urgent thing that would have to be immediately responded to,” Calimeris said. “The best way for everybody to look at it is that it’s no different than any other Christmas break, it’s just a little bit longer.”