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HFS, residence halls appreciate custodians

UW Housing and Food Services (HFS) held its Custodian Appreciation Day last Thursday to give staff members and residents a chance to highlight custodians and their contribution to the community. The initiative was held throughout the residence halls around campus and prompted the community to thank the custodians.

“We appreciate it very much,” Clara Varga, HFS custodial supervisor said. “We received hand-written cards from HFS administrators, which were very personal. We feel special.”

HFS custodians maintain residence halls, but their scope of work goes beyond cleaning up the dorms.

“It’s also [about] good relationships with students. We do not just clean the residences,” Varga said.

It is easy for residents to not be considerate toward the custodians and their work, sophomore and Stevens Court resident Heidi Back said.

“People have the misconception that they are not busy, that they do not have their own lives,” Back said. “People would walk past them without thinking about what [the custodians] do for them.”

The lack of appreciation is something that she aspires to work on with her fellow housemates. Doing simple things like thanking them and asking about their day is something that the custodians really value, Back said.

With various hall constructions going on on campus, HFS Custodial Services is slated to expand to meet the increase in student housing. The Custodial Services department has not experienced downsizing from the economic downturn due to its continual stream of funding from residents.

“We are self-sustaining. All of our services are paid off by HFS from the rents. We do not have that scare,” Varga said.

This year, the Custodial Services department looks forward to increasing its staff in anticipation for the openings of the new buildings, Dennis Fields, facilities manager of HFS Residential Maintenance, said. HFS Facilities Operations works closely with Custodial Services to ensure that their clients — the residents — are satisfied with their living accommodations, Fields said.

Fields said that union concerns might hinder the chances of HFS custodians receiving raises, particularly with a tighter HFS budget due to the staff increases.

“Our [HFS] custodians would not get a raise until the university custodians get a raise because they are under the same union,” Fields said.

Non-HFS university custodians have their own appreciation day, which Director of UW Custodial Services Gene Woodard said was coming up.

While HFS looks forward to the completion of its residence halls, Varga hopes the appreciation toward custodians continues.

“We hope that the students will keep appreciating what we do,” Varga said.

Reach reporter Aina Nadia Rafee at news@dailyuw.com.

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