For third-shift staff, Elon's weekly College Coffee falls after their shift ends for the day, but they've found a way to still be a part of the tradition.
On a recent Tuesday morning in Moseley Center, Frances Walker gathered with the campus community to celebrate a time-honored tradition: College Coffee.
“It’s so much fun to get together with your fellow employees and people you work with,” said Walker, a custodian in her 15th year at the university. “It’s great to just sit around and talk and fellowship.”
Walker and her fellow staff members joined in on the campus tradition on Feb. 11, with one change to the traditional schedule – their gathering happened before sunrise.
On the second Tuesday of every month in the fall and spring semesters, third-shift staff at Elon come together at 6:30 a.m. to take part in an early morning College Coffee. While the third-shift version of the event occurs less frequently than the traditional College Coffee, it offers staff access to the same information and time for community building. Staff members first presented the idea to Elon’s Staff Advisory Council in 2018.
“It was brought to our attention that the activities that are available during the day at a traditional College Coffee were not available to those working third shift,” said Doug Purnell, database architect and head of the Staff Advisory Council’s staff involvement subcommittee.
Each third-shift College Coffee includes information tables and a presentation by a representative from a campus organization. During February’s event, Felicia Cenca from the Office of Human Resources discussed fringe benefits such as discounts, perks and other resources available to Elon staff. President Connie Ledoux Book will to speak at April’s event, and the Student Government Association will show its appreciation for the third-shift staff in May.
“I look forward to it each month,” Walker said. “It just excites me to go and see what the topic is going to be.”
Walker says she was “shocked” to find out she had been tabbed to present at one of the events. Her supervisor asked her to speak about her first trip outside the country – a Winter Term study abroad experience in Greece with students, a faculty and a staff member. The opportunity for staff to share their experiences and spend time together away from their regular responsibilities were reasons enough to build upon the university’s tradition.
“It goes back to the inclusivity that we teach on campus,” Purnell said. “These staff members come in early, and they’re here behind the scenes keeping the buildings clean, and to have the ability to have a doughnut and time for fellowship is just nice.”
The next third-shift College Coffee events are planned for April 14 and May 5.
Staff members with other ideas for improving the working environment on campus can leave suggestions on the Staff Advisory Council’s “Be Heard” page.