Apology to My Building Attendant

By: Jennifer Sitton | Feb 12, 2013 | 264 Views Opinion |

While I was with my family over break, I mentioned my dorm’s housekeeper in conversation, at which point my family stopped chattering and asked me, “Exactly what kind of a school do you go to?” I explained, somewhat bashfully, that our building attendant cleans our communal bathroom every day, Monday through Friday, and our individual rooms are vacuumed, dusted, and have the trash removed once every two weeks.

Having lived with this system for nearly a semester, it has become normal for me to greet my building attendant every morning in the bathroom, and I’ve come to take for granted that the trash in the bathroom will be emptied every day. However, a while back, I realized just how careless and disrespectful some students can be when it comes to cleaning up after themselves.

I awoke one Sunday morning to find what appeared to be the remnants of Armageddon. Living in North Quad, I understand and accept that my dorm’s lounge isn’t going to be the cleanest place on Sunday mornings, and it doesn’t faze me anymore to see the trash piled into garbage cans just outside the doors. However, the trash is usually in the garbage cans, thanks to ASCMC’s late-night clean-up crews for registered parties such as TNC, NOT thrown into corners of the room and the bushes outside the lounge. This particular Sunday morning, all four doors to the lounge were propped open, presumably to air out the stench of spilled, sticky beer, and left-alone vomit.

The doors remained open until Monday morning when I encountered our building attendant attempting to clean up the catastrophic mess. After I apologized for whatever had happened on Saturday night, she sighed and said that it was okay but that she and a few others had already spent hours cleaning that morning, and it would take many more hours to make the building presentable again. She mentioned how this would add numerous hours to her her daily restroom-cleaning rounds, but before I left, she still smiled and told me to enjoy my day.

As I left her there, mop in hand, I couldn’t help but feel a hot twinge of embarrassment creep up my neck that my fellow CMC students had done this to her and that none of us had taken it upon ourselves to clean it up between then and when we saw it Sunday morning. The next day, others in my dorm gave excuses like, “Because there was no registered party, there was no one to pick up the mess,” and, “It was the ____ team,” and, “I heard they invited a bunch of students from La Verne and they trashed the place.” But in the end, if we really are “Leaders in the Making,” we should have stepped up and taken accountability for the mess that was made instead of leaving it for our building attendants to take care of on Monday morning.

This is not an issue of there not being a registered party with no one, like ASCMC, in charge of clean-up, and it is not an issue of invaders from off campus. It is an issue of respect—respect for your campus, respect for your fellow students, and respect for your building attendants, many of whom wake up at five in the morning every weekday to clean up after our late-night escapades.

At the beginning of last year, there was a call for students to hold themselves accountable and pick up after themselves. Will Brown published an article in the Forum called The Economics and Ethics of Party Cleanup, in which he emphasized that it is economically favorable for CMC students to clean up our messes. He referenced CMC students’ hypocrisy, calling ourselves leaders when we don’t take the initiative to clean up at the end of the night. Brown made many good points, but unfortunately the issue still exists, and it must be addressed again in order to remind students that it is not our building attendants’ job to clean up after us on Friday and Sunday mornings. It is not their job, nor should it be.

Over the past few weeks, the issue of trash left over from parties has become a topic of conversation again in ASCMC’s weekly Student Senate meetings. At the meetings, students have shared their disgust and frustration at the amount of garbage that is left in residence hall lounges and the general state of campus the mornings after parties. Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR), CMC‘s environmental club, has decided to hold a “Red Cup Awareness Weekend” the weekend of February 22. According to Hilary Haskell CMC ’14, SPEAR will be collecting cups after TNC on Thursday night and crafting them into a display for Friday morning. On Saturday, the club plans to wear red cup costumes and pick up trash at the party. Additionally, the club is working to make red cup recycling bins more readily available at parties.

One Thursday night, Zachariah Oquenda ’16, Chair of the Senate Campus Clean-up Task Force, cleaned Wohlford lounge after TNC was held there. Usually ASCMC, including student security, cleans up after TNC, but according to ASCMC Dorm Affairs Chair Abby Michaelsen ’15, Oquenda asked to be allowed to clean up himself so he could document the amount of trash left after the party. Oquenda picked up 232 red cups off the lounge’s floor, swept up three pieces of broken glass, and found four other pieces of broken glass outside. Later, he picked up 63 cups littered around Berger lounge. Then, Saturday night, Oquenda cleaned up 44 cups, 12 beer cans, two bottles of wine, and a broken wine glass from Berger lounge.

The efforts of SPEAR and Oquenda represent a growing concern among CMC students and building attendants alike. We may all respect our building attendants during the daytime, but try to remember them at night the next time you spray champagne on the walls of Boswell lounge or decide it’s okay to leave your trash sitting on the arm of one of Wohlford’s couches. We are one of few schools that have the luxury of having our rooms cleaned for us, but we should not take advantage of this luxury. We have to have more respect for the men and women who end up cleaning up after us because we’re better than this. I know we are.

About the Author

Jennifer Sitton is a sophomore and a dual Government and History major from West Linn, Oregon, a non-hipster suburb of Portland. In her copious amount of spare time, you can find her listening to country music, watching ESPN at the gym, or reading Gone with the Wind for the ninth time.

  • Alexander Avila

    Good work Zachariah and thank you for this thoughtful article Jennifer. Each year CMC students are ranked the happiest in America. If we love our school so much and are so content here at Camp Claremont then we need to show it by not trashing the campus every weekend. Like most things at CMC, everyone must do a little part for anything we strive for to be successful. Lets put our trash where it belongs. In the trash.

    • Zachariah Oquenda

      Alex is right. Yes there is an inherent problem with drunks picking up after themselves. This is why we need others to take on that responsibility. Every organization is bound to have some free riders. The incentive could be to specifically look to pay ASCMC Student Security to do the cleaning, at least at the level of picking up red cups and sweeping glass. After all, that is looking out for the safety of others in some sense right? Furthermore, we do love and appreciate our cleaning staff, which is another reason why whomever is willing should give up there time to clean. I’m basically just rambling. Anyway, awesome job on this article Jennifer!

  • Elle

    This is an amazing article. And good job Zachariah for your efforts. We need more awareness like articles like these!

  • Alumna

    We all know how shitfaced people get at CMC parties. How can we expect people so drunk to clean up before they leave, let alone remember to clean up (/where they even were) the next morning? Then, the task is left to CMCers who did not participate in creating the mess, which gives the people who made the mess no incentive to clean up. A better solution for ASCMC to consider would be to have the building attendants NOT clean up after one weekend, and then leave CMCers to deal with the shitholes their dorms have become rather than see it all nice and tidy the next day.

    • Celia

      I know that the idea has been thrown around in Senate to round up all the red cups and debris after a particularly wild TNC or Saturday night, piling everything in North Quad for all to see. Hopefully this will create awareness about littering on campus and increase personal accountability for students cleaning up their messes. It’s naive and unfair for us to expect that someone will be around to pick up after us in “the real world” so it’s time that we learned to deal with our own messes.

    • Priscilla Hsu

      The problem isn’t just limited to drunk parties though. I’m lucky enough to have a cushy work-study job in big Poppa but I’ve basically become the computer lab cleaning attendant. This isn’t in the job description, it’s just what the job has kind of morphed into. There are recycling bins less than 10 feet away from the printers in each computer lab but people prefer to throw their cover sheets all over the printer or on the floor. This is really annoying in labs like Ryal, where it literally takes half an ab rotation to the right and one step forward to recycle your paper. Cleaning up paper isn’t as annoying as dried beer and red cups, but the fact that CMCers can’t even handle taking two seconds out of our day to throw a red cup or a piece of paper in a blue bin is one of my biggest pet peeves. Thanks for the article, Jennifer.

  • http://twitter.com/d_meyer Dave Meyer

    The Hub Store should sell compostable plastic cups in bulk since they’re hard to get in grocery stores.

    And there should be compost bins, like everywhere.

  • Quizas

    What if it became part of each ASCMC member’s job description (from Senators to the President) to be responsible for the removal of trash after at least one TNC? I think if that were to happen we might see the leaders that are truly interested in “serving their community” across this campus.

  • America’s fallen off

    ‘somewhat bashfully’…? really? Whoever your dorm-keeper is, they are not embarrassed about their career, why should you be embarrassed by their occupation and how it involves itself, to your benefit, in your life? Just dont be rude, thank your dorm-keeper frequently and be proud about the great job they do, not ‘bashful.’

  • Big D

    Let them pick up after me. I paid over $50,000 per year and on top of that I’ve already donated over $100,000 as an alumni. Aagh!