Because of state budget cuts, several changes have been made to campus living, including reduced access to school-provided toilet paper and an end to New College’s housekeeping staff helping students keep their rooms clean. In prior years, the staff would often assist students by cleaning the bathrooms and apartment-style common room areas. This year, the housekeeping staff’s focus has shifted to other areas of the campus in a proactive effort to save jobs.
“At one time [the custodial staff’s] responsibilities included cleaning student rooms.” Director of Facilities Management and Construction Bob Mason said. “We’ve all heard the governor and seen the cost implications that are occurring and not improving. So we had to be out in front of this train and be proactive. It doesn’t help to wait until it becomes a crisis.” For Mason, the biggest goal was to preserve current custodial workers’ jobs. The decision was made last academic year after meetings with Residential Life, the Dean of Students Wendy Bashant and New College Student Alliance Co-presidents, in addition to Towne Meeting discussions, and a revision in the student housing contract.
The housekeeping staff’s responsibilities includes tasks such as pulling trash, stocking and cleaning bathrooms, cleaning chalkboards, wiping flat surfaces and vacuuming. “We did the best we could to preserve the jobs and we were able to do that,” Mason said. “We are leveling the work load the best we can so that everybody is getting their fair share of the work that’s out there. When managing a custodial crew of 17 or 18 people, the question of whether we can be more productive and more efficient is always out there.” According to Mason, New College was probably able to save two to four jobs by reassigning staff from cleaning student rooms to cleaning new areas such as the Academic Building.
According to Mason, the cleaning of student rooms does not occur anywhere else in the State University System. The housekeeping staff still consistently cleans and pulls recycling and trash from dorm common areas. The new system reduces the time custodial staff would use trying to gain access to student rooms when it was convenient for the student.
“I think what we’d like to see happen is some ownership to occur on the part of students so that they keep their rooms clean daily,” Mason continued. “That way it’s not such a huge amount of work at the end of the year. I would think that if there was prior ownership and self responsibility. Students should treat their rooms like an apartment.”