Student Success Strategy #35: Invisible People on Campus

Do you know who cleans your dorm room, takes out the trash, sanitizes the restrooms, changes the hall light fixtures, landscapes and maintains the grounds, monitors the safety of your water, adjusts heating and air conditioning, and vacuums the classrooms?

These are the invisible people on campus.  They may work the night shift to clean classrooms, so they don’t interrupt learning.  They wait until after 9 or 10 a.m. to clean your rooms, so you aren’t disturbed too early.  Some of them work 24/7/365 to keep the campus grounds and facilities in good repair.

Most of them work for relatively low wages, sometimes minimum wage.  Others are technically trained to the highest skill levels and earn very comfortable salaries, but none are getting rich.  Yet, they are the backbone and foundation of a college.  If the senior administrators were to play hooky for a week, would anyone really notice?

What would happen if the maintenance and housekeeping staff decided to play hooky for even 24 hours?

Pay attention to the service these invisible people provide.  Appreciate what they are doing for you.  If you live in a dormitory, learn the name of the person who cleans your room.  Make it easier for them to do their job – don’t grind pizza crumbs into the carpet or spill sticky liquids and leave them.  Give them the space they need to work.

An occasional greeting will make their day better.   I know students who have left a small thank you note on their door for the housekeeper, or a note taped to a room air conditioner for the HVAC repair worker.  You can also send an email to the department they work for, and have an effect on their performance appraisals and possibly even their future salaries.

You will probably never know how much this can mean to someone whose job it is to make your learning environment the best it can be, rarely getting any thanks, but often getting complaints when anything is wrong.  If you notice and show your appreciation, you might find that your housekeeper leaves a plate of homemade cookies in your room one day, or your maintenance worker comes to your aid first when an entire building needs help.

Student Success Strategy #35:  Thank the invisible people for making your college experience comfortable, healthy, and conducive to learning.

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