Housekeeping staff stays busy with residence hall upkeep

The daily cleaning of every dormitory bathroom is only one responsibility of Butler University’s housekeeping staff.

Richard Hamm, director of building services, works closely with his supervisors, Augusto Acosta and Jenny Roell, to try to keep the residence halls as clean and sanitary as possible.

Acosta supervises Ross Hall, Residential College and the Apartment Village, and Roell is supervisor for Schwitzer Hall and University Terrace.

Hamm said there are typically 16 staff members working each day during the week who are responsible for cleaning the public bathrooms of the residence halls daily, as well as performing weekly sanitary procedures for things like doorknobs, handrails and other frequently touched surfaces throughout the buildings.

Water is considered housekeeping’s biggest problem because even after standing water is cleaned up, it can often cause mold, mildew or electrical issues in places unseen, Acosta said.

“Water is our biggest enemy,” Hamm said. “Communication is our biggest friend.”

Hamm said that this is one reason that communication is so important because reporting these sorts of incidents immediately can help reduce the likelihood of a situation worsening.

Hamm said the main thing that residents can do to help housekeeping address issues promptly and appropriately is to make sure they communicate with their resident assistant when they see problem areas.

Even with the staff’s effort, some students said they think the bathrooms could still be cleaner.

Renee Mommaerts, a freshman psychology and pre-med major, said that the showers always seem very dirty.

“There are hairballs everywhere,” she said.

Phil Dwyer, a freshman computer science major, said he heard of an incident when someone put a trash can in one of Ross Hall’s showers and another incident involving someone vomiting in the shower area.

“Monday mornings are rough,” Hamm said.

When breakouts are reported, such as the H1N1 virus two years ago, these procedures are performed more frequently to minimize the spread of infection.

Acosta said that the products housekeeping uses to clean and sanitize are designed to be cleaner and safer, using completely green products excluding when it does deep cleaning over the summer.

During extended breaks, such as the upcoming fall break, scheduled maintenances are done as needed. The summer is spent prepping the dorms for Welcome Week, and winter break is designated for more time-consuming projects, like carpet cleaning and stripping and waxing of floors.

While staff focuses on common areas, the main issue of the housekeeping staff is recycling and waste removal. Butler received a $25,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in 2007. Hamm said that this allowed housekeeping to improve the quality of recycling stations and management without assuming any additional labor costs.

Hamm also said that the staff handles around six pickup loads of trash for a single weekend, and the housekeeping staff is usually only about three members on weekends, when all it does is handle garbage removal.

When vandalism occurs over the weekend, it normally isn’t dealt with until the following Monday. Hamm said that if something does need to be reported immediately, residents can call Butler University Police Department’s dispatcher, who is available all the time and can then contact Roell and inform her of the situation.

Hamm said he is pleased with much-needed upgrades addressed in Butler’s Master Plan, such as additional dorm space and refurbishing, which will help improve housekeeping’s effectiveness.

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