Fraternity honors campus custodians

The Sigma Pi fraternity hosted a grill-out for 320 University custodial staff.

Alex Robinson

When most University students finish class and prepare to party on Friday, custodian Brikti Haile starts her night by changing into her uniform and taking inventory of her supply closet.

After cleaning windows and sinks, emptying out trash cans and mopping the first floor of the Phillips Wangensteen Building, the single mother of four ends her shift at midnight.

But this Friday, Haile started her shift at Sigma Pi’s Unsung Heroes’ Dinner. The fraternity hosted a grill-out for 320 of the University’s custodial staff.

The dinner was intended to show appreciation for the University’s custodial staff, said biomedical engineer sophomore and fraternity President Bryan Roeser.

“All these workers help keep our campus clean, and they usually only get noticed if they don’t do a good job,” Roeser said. “This is a way for us to say thanks.”

The event was part of the Altruistic Campus Experience project, in which all fraternities under the Sigma Pi chapter do at least one volunteer event each year.

The University also did its part to recognize the second-shift custodial staff by agreeing to pay them for their time at the dinner.

“It’s easy to overlook them, and we wanted to make sure that they get some recognition,” said Brad Hoff, Facilities Management transformation project manager.

The staff only had one hour off at the beginning of their shift, so Hoff said they would still be able to finish all of their work.

Also, the staff came at staggered times so Sigma Pi wouldn’t get overrun and at least some crews would always be working, Hoff said.

Custodian Will Frank said he enjoyed both the sentiment and the food Sigma Pi provided.

“Some people that work here don’t always have enough (money) to get a dinner,” Frank said.

Custodian Cathy Reihe said that she has been working for the University’s custodial service for 33 years, and she had never been thanked by a fraternity before.

“It’s excellent that they acknowledged us,” she said.

And while the custodial staff expressed gratitude for the dinner, a few custodians said people already recognized their work.

Haile is one of those few. She knows many of the doctors and nurses in the building and they compliment her when they notice her work.

“I work harder because I know that when they come in the next morning it will be clean,” Haile said.

Since Haile is in charge of cleaning medical rooms, a lot of her job consists of making sure rooms are sterile. And even though her part is a smaller role in the grand scheme of the building, she said she takes great pride in her work.

“I work hard every night, but if I do have to call in sick, it usually takes two people to cover my area,” Haile said.