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The Ins and Outs of the Residential Service Desk: UMass Edition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

When I tell others of my on-campus job working at the RSD, I’m often met with “The what?” or “Oh, is that the place with the packages?” It’s a sad epidemic in UMass history. The RSD is a popular location for freshmen, since the majority live on campus, however, once people begin to move out of dorms and into apartments or houses, the RSD slowly becomes forgotten, a distant memory of having to painstakingly include the right street address on your packages or needing to sign out a backup key for your dorm room. While the job may seem mundane, I’m here to give you the inside scoop from a Brett Residential Service Desk employee. 

First things first, RSD = Residential Service Desk. There are a lot of terminologies that I will use interchangeably so get comfortable because I’ll be switching it up. I’ve worked at the Central Residential Area RSD since last fall. By the time I graduate this spring, I will have worked at the desk for two years, which I think makes me a veteran of the trade, and knowledgeable enough to give you guys some inside tips and tricks of the package and key business. 

First, we’ll start off in the wonderful world of keys. The most common issue we find with keys is that people lose them ALL THE TIME! It’s insane the number of backup keys I’ve signed out and the number of re-cores I’ve had to order. A re-core, btw, is when a room’s locks are changed because the key is lost for good. While they do cost a pretty penny at $100 for the student who lost their key, they are essential in order to ensure safety. If we kept the same locks and someone found the student’s key there is a chance they could get into their room and that would be a no-go. A standard lockout usually happens when people leave their room and forget the doors lock automatically, meaning they can’t get back in and have to come down to the office to sign out a temporary key with a 24-hour limit. There are MANY cases where people have come down in their pajamas, towels, or even barefoot a few times because they locked themselves out going to the bathroom or simply walking down the hall. So DON’T be that person who forgets to bring their key with them when they’re on their way to shower! 

Next up are the packages! This one is a doozy. We get A LOT of packages, like too many if you ask me. Before Covid-19 hit, there used to be two Residential Service Desks in the Central Area, one in Baker and one in Brett. However, since the pandemic and the campus closures the RSD was consolidated into Brett. Now, instead of just servicing lower Central, we serve ALL of Central, and my god do people order a lot of things. Last year Brett was the RSD with the third most packages logged, just under two of the RSDs in Southwest who service the towers, if that tells you anything. The one thing I will stress about packages is DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT come to the service desk asking to check and see if we have your packages if you haven’t already gotten an email from the Brett RSD specifically. It is one of the biggest pet peeves of the job. I’ve had, on several occasions, people ask for me to dig through the piles of bags and boxes we had just received to find their specific package, because if FedEx or UPS said it’s been delivered then it must automatically be logged and shelved in the office as well (sarcasm at it’s finest). Please just give us a chance to log your stuff before you come asking. I know it’s super exciting (trust me I order stuff all the time because it gives me a boost of serotonin) but please, just to make everything easier WAIT until you get an email. And, for those of you wondering, because we get asked ALL the time, whether it be from students or parents, or other relatives, this is how you would address your mail. 

Student’s Name (FIRST AND LAST) 

The street address of the student’s dorm 

Student’s building and room number

Amherst MA, 01003 

So for example,

John Smith 

151 Infirmary Way 

Brett 000

Amherst MA, 01003 

This is such a big problem throughout many of the RSDs because a lot of times students will get packages with no name, no room number, a nickname, an old address, etc. and we sometimes have to send it back because our system can’t find the person in question. Most of the time we are able to investigate and figure out who the package belongs to, but if there is any tip I can give to help those ordering packages to the Residential Service Desks on campus, it is to include your FULL name no matter what. That alone will help immensely

I could go on and on about this job; about the pipe burst in one of the dorm buildings last month, the heating problems they all have, or the ‘Big Amazon Fiasco of 2022.’ The job is a little chaotic at times but I enjoy it very much and would recommend it if you get the chance. Don’t let the “horror” stories fool you; it’s a great experience in customer service!

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Abigail Hartman

U Mass Amherst '23

Abby's a Senior with a psychology major and a Spanish and PoliSci minor, and she loves anything true crime related!