Dorm Crew To Clean Fewer Bathrooms

Jeremiah P. Murphy

Percentages of House private bathrooms cleaned by Dorm Crew. The remaining percentages are cleaned by UNICCO, Boston’s largest janitorial contractor, or Harvard’s Facilities Maintenance Operations.

Dunster House Manager H. Joseph O’Connor said he knew it was bound to happen sooner or later.

But when he learned in late August that Dorm Crew would be unable to clean all 160 of the private bathrooms in student suites at Dunster House because of an expected decrease in student workers, he was saddened nonetheless.

“It’s too bad,” O’Connor said. “Over the years I’ve gotten nothing but compliments for every Dorm Crew assignment.”

O’Connor informed Dunster residents by e-mail this week that UNICCO—Boston’s largest janitorial contractor—would take over cleaning duties for the 60 bathrooms located in entryways A through D.

UNICCO employees started work in Dunster this Wednesday and will clean suite bathrooms once a week. The remaining 100 bathrooms in the House will continue to be cleaned by Dorm Crew.

The presence of UNICCO custodians this week was felt immediately by some Dunsterites.

“It was kind of surprising to walk into my room and see a stranger in the bathroom,” said B entryway resident Erin T. Probst ’06.

Probst, who said that the worker successfully unclogged her sink, was less sentimental about the change to UNICCO.

“It’s not really an issue of students getting edged out by an outside corporation. I guess it’s just supply and demand,” she said.

Dorm Crew Co-Head Captain Andras Tilcsik ’05 said that Dorm Crew has been doing less work in the Houses over the past several years due to a shortage of workers.

“We do not have enough labor to cover all of the Houses we work in in their entirety,” he wrote in an e-mail. “As such, we must choose to do portions of some Houses and all of others.”

Tilcsik said that the decision to decrease service in Dunster—as well as eliminate service in Pforzheimer House altogether—was made over the summer.

Although more students signed-up to work for Dorm Crew this fall than last year, Custodial Supervisor Robert F. Wolfreys said the organization expected student employees to quit or put in fewer hours as their academic workload increased over the course of the year.

Wolfreys said the resultant fluid supply of labor prompted Dorm Crew to reduce the total number of campus bathrooms cleaned by students before the beginning of the school year, rather than dealing with shortages later.

“We simply thought it best to reduce the amount of work done [in Dunster] at the beginning of the year rather than face having to let our customers down after school started,” he wrote in an e-mail.

O’Connor attributed the declining Dorm Crew numbers to waning student interest in Dorm Crew and the availability of other, more desirable jobs on campus.

“Bathroom cleaning sounds rather mundane at times, but I’ve always considered it a vital service,” he said.

In addition to Dunster House, Tilcsik said UNICCO already cleans residents’ bathrooms in parts or all of Quincy, Pforzheimer, Currier and Mather Houses, as well as the DeWolfe apartment buildings.

Facilities Maintenance Operations workers also share cleaning responsibilities with Dorm Crew and UNICCO.

O’Connor said it was unfortunate that Dorm Crew workers would no longer be cleaning all of the bathrooms in Dunster House because students always spoke highly of the work they did.

But O’Connor said he was happy that Dorm Crew would continue to clean some bathrooms in Dunster.

“I’m glad we’re able to keep some on board,” he said. “I do have a special place in my heart for Dorm Crew people.”