By Jake Miller
On university campuses across the country the administration, faculty, staff, and students take a front row seat, but as it is with all things, what goes on behind the closed curtains is equally as important.
At 4 a.m. the first shift of housekeeping staff members at the University of Findlay clock in and begin their morning clean: buffing tables, cleaning windows, and creating a near spotless environment for the rest of campus to function in.
Donna Doyle, housekeeping coordinator at UF, says that time is the most challenging aspect of being a housekeeping staff member.
“When I first started here we started at 5 a.m. and now we have moved it to 4 a.m. just to allow us a little more time to get so much work done in a short amount of time,” said Doyle.
One extra hour didn’t seem to be enough, so Doyle decided to have someone clocked in at all hours of the day.
“I have added a third shift that starts at 11 p.m. and goes until 7:30 a.m. The main reason is so campus is covered 24/7,” said Doyle.
According to Doyle, prior to activating this third shift shortly after spring break of 2015, if there were to be an emergency on campus, someone had to be called in to address the problem. Now there are housekeeping staff members present on campus through the night.
“The staff is just spread throughout the day now – which lightens the workload for all those who work the 4 a.m. shift,” said Angela Marshall, a second-year housekeeping staff member.
By 8 a.m. when classes begin and the offices on campus are filled with the buzz of college life the priority of the housekeeping staff shifts. Housekeepers move from the fast-paced cleaning off all the academic and office buildings they move to the dorm halls.
“Typically there is about a week of adjustment and then the students know my schedule and we coexist very well together,” said Marshall.
This is where the curtains are often closed and where most people don’t realize that a lot of tremendous hard work takes place.
“Weather issues are the biggest challenge,” said Cindy Strathman, who is in her third year with the housekeeping team. “Sometimes we get here and there is no salt down and the roads and sidewalks aren’t plowed.”
If we set aside the potential hardships that these hardworking individuals face, however, it is amazing just how appreciated they are.
“Students and parents have sent us emails and letters and snacks and treats sometimes thanking us for taking good care of them or their children while they are here,” said Doyle.
“This year for Christmas I went out into the lobby of second floor Fox and there was a tray of cookies set out by the girls and the resident assistant had made a nice little pottery dish for me,” said Strathman.
Some students have called their housekeepers their mother away from home because of how personable, kind, and caring they are. One housekeeper even received a hand-made quilt from a group of students thanking her for all her hard work.
“Relationships with students last,” said Martine Moran, who has been with the department for 6-and-a-half years. “That is what makes it rewarding.”
Two and three years down the road, after interacting with certain students day in and day out in the freshmen dorm halls, these housekeepers still get to see those familiar faces on campus. The simple “hello” or small talk conversation in passing, Moran says that those are the moments that UF housekeepers smile at. Those are the moments that show just how appreciated they are in their often obscure behind-the-scenes jobs.
“It makes me feel good that the University trusts me to do this job. To keep our campus safe and clean,” said Moran. “President Fell even noted how important our job is to campus and that means a lot.”