Campus thanks workers

The+billiards+room+in+Warhawk+Alley+in+the+University+Center+was+filled+with+custodians+enjoying+a+break+from+work+for+a+few+hours+before+being+served+lunch.

The billiards room in Warhawk Alley in the University Center was filled with custodians enjoying a break from work for a few hours before being served lunch.

By Vesna Brajkovic

Sept. 17, 2014

Every morning on campus the garbages are emptied, the stairwells are cleared of pizza boxes from the night before and the hallways are freshly vacuumed by ‘invisible people’ the campus can’t function without–the custodians.

On Sept. 12, the custodians enjoyed a mid-day break as part of the International Executive Housekeeper’s Appreciation Week, which celebrates custodial and janitorial workers across the country.

It was the Fourth Annual Custodial Appreciation Day event at UW-Whitewater. All custodial staff were invited for a few hours of billiards, bowling, Whitewater trivia, a raffle and a complementary lunch provided by UW-W Dining Services in Warhawk Alley in the University Center to show appreciation for their daily work.

Although some students may pay little attention to the people cleaning up after them, others make them part of their college experience; something that the appreciation day is meant to encourage.

Tasia Pinkham and Jenna Hoope knew their favorite custodian right away, Starin Hall custodian Brian Quass.

“He’s just really friendly, and he always says good morning,” Hoope said.

Pinkham agrees.

“He knows your name and takes the time to get to know you,” Pinkham said. “He makes Starin a better community and I think a lot of residents appreciate what he does and how he does it.”

At the event, custodians were able to win prizes during the games, such as t-shirts and water bottles, with a Pepsi beach umbrella being the grand prize.

During trivia, one of the questions was, “What position did Chancellor Richard Telfer hold at UW-W previously?” One woman shouted out jokingly, “Custodian?” (The correct answer is the professor and department chair of Curriculum and Instruction.)

The board responsible for getting the appreciation event together included Kim Adams, Brenda Warren, Rhonda Jones, Jenny Clauer, Alan Goytowski, Denise Ehrens, Dave Holly, Mike Jones and University Center Human Resources interns Andrew Manthey and Bonnie Lee.

In previous years, the event has been held in different locations, such as the Hamilton Room and the Ballroom, but according to Kim Adams, assistant director for University events, holding the event at Warhawk Alley was a big hit among the employees.

Custodial Services Supervisor Alan Goytowski was the first person to come up with the idea to have a special day set aside to show appreciation of the custodians after he saw other campuses doing the same.

“We have so many employees,” Goytowski said. “And they’re the people that are oftentimes underappreciated normally.”

Although many times the job of a custodian seems hard or exhausting, some custodians, like recently hired Sandi Byan, make the most of their day and find a special connection with their duties.

She said that she gets to campus by 5:30 a.m. and begins her day of cleaning by 6 a.m. She said she loves making connections with the students on her floor by telling them stories and leaving notes.

“I think it’s rewarding,” said Byan, Arey Hall custodian. “I really enjoy my job,”

Custodian Kurt Hoffer said although he doesn’t always form as strong as a connection to many students in Starin Hall, once in awhile he stops to talk.

“Students get lonely too,” he said. “They get lonely for their family and so they have to talk to someone, so they talk to me. And that’s fine with me, I’m happy to do it.”

Although there can be some upsides to the job, there are certain days on campus that many custodians agree they have their work cut out for them.

Carie Kenderck, who has been at Whitewater for six years, said certain nights are party nights, like Thursdays. Friday morning and the weekend the custodians are usually expecting that extra mess in the common areas of the dorms.

In Starin Hall, things are a little different because there are private rooms and bathrooms. But once a month, starting Sept. 23, the custodians will start cleaning the suites’ bathroom and shower areas and “things get messy.”

Hoffer, a self-proclaimed ‘neat freak,’ said one thing students living in Starin can do to help out the custodial staff is to not leave a lot of things laying out on the vanity so that it is easier to clean.

Otherwise, he has to leave a ‘pink slip’ and can’t clean until the next month.

Although this event only lasted three hours, it was set up to give these oftentimes overlooked employees a chance to feel appreciated. Holly, facilities planning and management custodial supervisor, ended the event with a few words to these “invisible people,” as Ehrens called them.

“I want you to know that we greatly appreciate how you contribute mightily to this university,” he said.

Holly also noted that UW-Whitewater has been on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Top Workplaces list for the last four years.

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