Polished Sinks, Clean Carpets and Awkward Interactions

By Carolyn Angius '13Staff Writer

With dorms renowned for looking like palaces and perfectly manicured lawns and gardens, there is no denying that the employees of the Scripps grounds, facilities and maintenance departments are extremely important, active members of our community. In fact, I can guarantee I see more of maintenance department employees than I do of my professors, or even some of my closest friends, on any given day. The irony, however, is that this visibility does not correlate with any sort of relationship or closeness

I exchange the typical “Hi, how are you?” and “Have a great day!” daily with my dorm’s housecleaner and I often sheepishly apologize and thank as I tip-toe around a ground worker’s piles of raked debris along the walkway to Routt. While I appreciate all the hard work the maintenance and grounds departments expend to make our campus beautiful, and I by no means take for granted their dedication. I find myself feeling uncomfortable with my relationship with the people who work so hard to create an environment from which we all benefit.

Last Friday morning, my six suite-mates were all milling around our suite when our dorm’s housecleaner entered and began vacuuming our living room and cleaning our bathroom. She even took out our trash. A few of us who saw her picking up jumped in to help her pick up detritus from the floor and clear a path for the vacuum. All of us engaged in small talk, discussing fall break and our weekends for a few moments. Once she had left, however, leaving behind polished sinks and a clean carpet, my suite-mates and I discussed our discomfort with the cleaner’s responsibilities. None of us felt comfortable with allowing anyone outside of the suite to come in and clean up after us--we felt embarrassed, ashamed and apologetic. As 19 and 20 year olds, we felt shameful allowing—and indirectly employing—another human to clean up after our own messes.

I greatly appreciate all the work of our maintenance and grounds workers and I would love to speak with a worker about their perspective on our campus’ students. I wonder if our grounds and maintenance workers feel like valued members of the community, and if not, I want to discover and implement ways in which we can build relationships with the people that give so much to us. Lastly, in light of my experience in the suite, I would be extremely interested in finding out if there is a way to alleviate facilities workers from cleaning the suites and private bathrooms without compromising their pay or job security on campus.