Custodians keep residence halls clean

On a worn piece of paper taped to a door in Middlebrook Hall is a list of rules many University students learned in kindergarten: “put things back where you found them,” “clean up your own mess,” “don’t take things that aren’t yours,” and “flush.”

Middlebrook Facilities Management Operations Supervisor Gary McLean’s list of basic courtesies reflect the expectations the University’s Housing and Residential Life staff have of students to help custodians do their daily jobs.

In addition to the occasional student mess, the majority of the workload for residence hall custodians consists of cleaning bathrooms. A custodian in Middlebrook cleans two floors of bathrooms per day, for a total of 32.

Middlebrook custodian Michelle Germain, who has been working at the University for 25 years, said the work can get tiring.

“I clean 36 bathrooms a day Ö and it takes 20 minutes to clean each bathroom,” she said. “It is a lot of work.”

The custodians rotate between doing a normal cleaning, a light cleaning and a restocking of each bathroom. A normal cleaning consists of emptying the trash, mopping the floors, and cleaning the sinks, showers and toilets.

Besides cleaning bathrooms during their eight-and-a-half hour shift, custodians also vacuum the hallways and stairways on every floor two to three times per week.

Middlebrook custodian Grafton Sampson has been working at the University since 1976 and said residence hall custodians do the same basic work every day.

“It is the same (work) for all of us Ö it is just some of us have a different style (or) different method,” he said.

Connie Thompson, assistant department director of central housing, said the extra time custodians have to spend cleaning up after students’ messes takes time away from doing the detail work and daily cleaning.

“It would be great if (students) help us help them,” she said. “It would cost us less. The places would look better, and we’d spend less money on repairs if it was a team effort.”

Besides cleaning up after themselves, Territorial Facilities Management Operations Supervisor Demie Joseph said students can apply for a job in custodial, maintenance or utilities work.

“Instead of hiring more buildings-grounds workers, (residence halls) use students and give them an opportunity to have a job,” Joseph said.

According to Thompson, students constitute about 20 to 25 percent of the custodial staff and work an average of six to 10 hours per week.

Students do general light maintenance, such as replacing lightbulbs, and student custodians help clean bathrooms, oil doors and vacuum.

“Students are extremely helpful for us,” McLean said. “It is a form of financial aid. Ö All of the student jobs are a way of helping (students) make ends meet.”

Appreciation and awareness from the students allow custodians to do a better job and foster a personal relationship between students and the custodial staff, McLean said.

“Anytime you have that relationship it really helps,” he said.

Germain said she appreciates when students mention her hard work.

Sampson said students are polite and likes the environment he works in.

“(Being a custodian) is a job that is one of the best I have ever had,” he said. “I cannot complain.”

Accounting junior and Middlebrook resident Wong Man Wai said she appreciates what custodians do, especially after the weekend.

“I am quite satisfied with their services and friendliness,” she said.

Amongst the harried schedule of custodians, McLean reminds his staff of the reality of the relationship between them and the students living in the residence halls.

“The students are their customers Ö and the wages that the employees earn come directly from the students they serve,” McLean said. “Not only should students see a personal connection, (but) the staff needs to see that too.”

-Freelance Editor Yelena Kibasova welcomes comments at [email protected].