UMD maintenance staff endure a lot. We should make it easy for them.
The opinions expressed in the opinion columns are those of the author.
If you’re like most college students living in dorms, you probably dump the leftovers of your late-night cravings into trash cans in the hallway on your floor. In fact, you’ve probably never been shy about doing it – that’s what they’re here for.
This act seems inconsequential, but it can create a significant burden for janitorial staff. The constant flow of personal waste causes the bins in the hallways to fill up quickly. As a result, staff members frequently go to dumpsters, carrying bulging and overflowing bin and compost bags. Not only is this an unnecessary inconvenience, but some of the items we automatically throw in these bins may actually be recycled.
Campus janitorial staff – especially those located in residence halls – are some of the greatest unsung heroes of our college lives, and we don’t do enough to appreciate them. They are tasked with taking care of some of our most basic needs, a feat arguably only matched by the professors handling grade requests during the final season.
When students return home after a long evening, for example, they may have ingested alcohol. They may feel a bit – or very – dizzy. They may make a direct line to the toilet, desperately trying to cover as much ground as possible with each step. And sadly, they may not make it to the toilet, instead splashing their insides on the white exterior of the bathroom sink and leaving their floor mates a pleasant surprise.
They call in a caretaker, who spends 20 minutes scrubbing and polishing the sink as the putrid smell of vomit lingers in the bathroom. Should the student feel guilty?
Definitively. I can’t count the number of times I’ve attempted to use a shared restroom without inadvertently triggering my gag reflex, only to see the poor janitor on duty working tirelessly to unclog the sink.
Not only do the guardians of this university have to deal with the inevitable consequences of the presence of students, but they are often involved in virtually every other task to ensure our safety on campus. Behind the scenes, they are involved in physically strenuous activities – including lifting, pulling and pushing heavy objects – all of which pose a serious risk of injury. In addition, guards are often exposed to a variety of dangerous chemicals such as those contained in pesticides and mold, which puts them at risk for occupational diseases.
It infuriates me when people dismiss the idea of treating housekeeping staff better and claiming it’s the staff’s job clean up after us. I can probably assume that most of us college students have worked part-time – most likely in fast food or retail – at least at some point in our lives. Just because it was our job to serve fast food doesn’t mean we deserve to be publicly belittled by that irate customer who didn’t get the sauce he wanted. While the concierge staff are obligated to put away our messes, that doesn’t give us a pass for being recklessly irresponsible.
As the semester draws to a close, I implore everyone to try to build a better relationship with our housekeeping staff. If that means taking the extra two minute hike to the dumpster outside, so be it. Or, if you’re planning on going out on a Friday night, maybe try not to be incapacitated to the point where it becomes impossible to distinguish between toilets and shower stalls.