The Cleaning Staff: UMBC’s Unsung Heroes

UMBC’s cleaning staff do not get holiday bonuses

By Tahsin Khan

Senior Staff Writer

tkhan3@umbc.edu

Students should be more grateful towards the cleaning staff at UMBC. Since they do not get any benefits, students should try to be more considerate and clean up after themselves.

The holiday season is here! That means many students will be eating pies, exchanging presents, spending time with loved ones and showing their gratitude. Unfortunately, when it comes down to appreciating UMBC’s cleaning staff, students are everything but grateful.

It was appalling to see the condition of the RLC early Tuesday morning. An inconsiderate individual left their Outtakes trash sprawled by a computer, and there was a hardened goo-like material stuck to the desk.

Moreover, chairs were not pushed in, scraps of paper were sprinkled on the carpet, and the overall state of the center was disheveled.

A UMBC staff member was cleaning this abhorrent mess, and while she tried to remove the gunk from the desk, she would occasionally look up and smile at whoever made eye contact with her.

The average person would be outwardly frustrated if they had to deal with such a huge mess, but not her — not any of the cleaning staff at UMBC. They all handle their jobs professionally and calmly with a smile.

Many workplaces offer an incentive when the holidays roll around. However, these benefits do not apply to the hardworking cleaning staff at UMBC.

“We don’t get nothing,” states a UMBC cleaning staff member who asked to remain anonymous. “We all want it and need it, but most of us won’t say nothing about it. It is what it is. What we going to do about it?”

The cleaning staff keeps our learning environments clean and neat so we do not have to waste our time and efforts on our own housekeeping. In a 2011 survey conducted by retailer OfficeMax found that in a sample size of 1,000 adults, 77 percent said a mess damages their productivity.

Logically, it makes sense that the cleaning staff at UMBC is a key asset for students, faculty and other staff who want to have a fulfilling learning and working experience.

From a non-Scrooge viewpoint, the cleaning staff at UMBC definitely deserves some benefits during the holiday season. It is thoroughly disappointing that UMBC does not agree on this issue.

Nonetheless, it is understandable that workers should not get bonuses for doing their regular job. Students do not get extra credit for meeting the criteria on their projects — they have to do something above and beyond for a professor to be inclined towards giving a few extra points.

The UMBC cleaning staff is simply doing their regular job, and they get paid accordingly for it. So if UMBC doesn’t believe that they deserve a bonus, then what can students do about it?

A lot. First of all, students need to recognize that the facilities they use are shared by the entire student body. Not everyone acts in a manner disrespectful toward those shared resources — and there are a lot of students who do pick up after themselves — but for those who don’t: start cleaning your own mess.

Secondly, a smile warms up the heart. If they can give a second of their lives to smile at students, students can easily do the same to them.

Just by picking up after ourselves, or by flashing a smile, students can collectively work to better the work experience of the UMBC cleaning staff, not just for the holiday season, but for the entire year.