In-Depth: Around the Clock

In the city that never sleeps, Columbia is the University that never closes.

To provide the infrastructure and core services that support the University’s all-day, all-night operations, team members of Facilities and Operations, from Public Safety to Campus Services to the Facilities Services Center, provide crucial around-the-clock support. Two critical parts of our mission as a service-focused division are maintaining a safe, beautiful, and functional campus environment; and providing support and spaces for campus life and activity outside the classroom. Toward these goals, several of our key departments operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Facilities Services Center (4-2222) is a 24/7/365 call center for maintenance requests, serving as a conduit for faculty, students and staff to a wide range of academic and residential services across the Morningside and Manhattanville campuses. In addition, the center routes work requests received online.

Wilfred Small, Services Center Manager, said, “As the central point of support for most Facilities and Operations services, we strive to be efficient and effective, to give our community the support they need.”

The center also coordinates Facilities and Operations service outage communications, dispatches mechanics to emergency conditions, and works with Public Safety to monitor campus fire alarms. During evenings and weekends, the center additionally handles calls from University apartments and works collectively with undergraduate Housing’s Hartley Hospitality Desk. Aside from their initial requests, clients may also call the center to escalate urgent matters, follow up on the status of existing work orders, and resolve questions about billing.

While faculty and students are sleeping (or pulling all-nighters in their rooms), Facilities and Operations’ housing teams are hard at work.  The graduate and faculty University Apartment Housing (UAH) team provides 24/7 on-call emergency support via building superintendents, in addition to their regular office hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The UAH team also works closely with the Facilities Services Center to provide for around-the-clock maintenance needs.

“In our apartment buildings, we understand the importance of quick and attentive service to our residents,” said Diego Rivera, Executive Director. “Providing help at all hours is key to supporting the safety and security of our residents.”

Undergraduate Housing aims to help students "Make it Your Home." Toward that goal, Housing provides essential and convenience services at the Hartley Hospitality Desk to Columbia College and SEAS undergraduates living in the residence halls. In addition to partnering with the Services Center for help with maintenance and custodial needs, the Hospitality Desk provides moving bin rentals; helps resolve lock and key issues; offers an outgoing and incoming fax service ($1 per page); and reissues and re-encodes lost or damaged University ID Cards with Housing access, Dining plans, and Flex balances, as applicable (the central ID Center, which is open 9 to 5 weekdays, can also fully re-encode reissued ID cards.)

“For our students, the residence halls provide the backbone of their sense of local community. The Hospitality Desk is a cornerstone of our commitment to friendly, supportive service,” said Joyce Jackson, Executive Director, Columbia Housing.

It’s not possible to examine 24-hour service without discussing how students can get their food fix.  Luckily, Columbia Dining provides a broad array of food services on a schedule that makes food available around the clock to all students, faculty and staff during the academic year. JJ’s Place provides the overnight dining option, with open hours from noon each day through 10:00 the following morning. JJ’s and serves a variety of casual dining options including burgers, wings, breakfast dishes, and hot snacks. The informal dining room, including game tables for air hockey and foosball, and comfortable seating around one of the building’s original fireplaces, is also a cozy, welcoming space for late-night studying or just relaxing.

“Our students work hard, and we recognize the need to provide them with delicious food anytime, day or night,” said Vicki Dunn, Executive Director of Columbia Dining.

Including JJ’s Place, Dining hosts a total of eight locations, with a variety of full meal and light café fare options throughout the week.

Columbia Health provides several critical health and safety services throughout each night and weekend, in addition to regular daytime hours. Sexual Violence Response supports the community with a 24/7 help line, 212-854-HELP (4357); Counseling and Psychological Services provides telephone consultation with licensed mental health professionals at 212-854-2878; and Medical Services provides after-hours non-emergency support from a clinician-on-call at 212-854-7426 or 855-779-7132 (in the event of an emergency, Health recommends calling either Public Safety or 911).

“The mental and physical health of our students is paramount, and we are glad to be able to provide comprehensive support,” said Dr. Melanie Bernitz, Associate Vice President and Medical Director of Columbia Health.

As part of its core mission to promote safety and security, Public Safety operates 24-hour emergency phone lines on all campuses. The department provides two overnight safe-transit services: an Evening Shuttle that runs in two looped routes from 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., and Walking Safety Escorts that can accompany University affiliates upon request between 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.

Public Safety and Columbia Health also partner with Columbia University EMS (CU-EMS), formerly known as CAVA, the Morningside campus’ 24-hour student-run volunteer ambulance corps. Public Safety serves as the dispatcher for CU-EMS.

Throughout the Morningside, Manhattanville and Medical Center neighborhoods, Public Safety works with local businesses, many of which are open 24 hours or late-night, to provide Safe Havens, marked with a red lion sticker in the window, where any member of the Columbia community can ask for assistance in calling Public Safety or the police and wait in safety for Public Safety personnel to arrive.

James F. McShane, Vice President of Public Safety, said: "Our teams work around the clock to provide the safest possible environment for our Columbia community. Our first commitment is always to the safety and security of everyone at the University."