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Letter: Wake up, Duke. Our housekeepers are being exploited

President Price, for seven months now, our residential housekeepers have been unnecessarily working on weekends. After the policy change, housekeeping staff have changed to an alternating schedule of working seven days in a row every other week. Also a result of the schedule change, only half of their teams now come in Thursday through Sunday, so on these days housekeepers are expected to perform double the workload for the same pay. 

In a meeting that Duke Students and Workers Alliance had with Housing and Residential Life, administration claimed that this change was for the safety of students.

However, based on the results of our petition signed by over 1,000 people last fall, and conversations with over 40 housekeepers, students and housekeepers alike say there was no problem before and there has been no noticeable change in building cleanliness after the policy change. Not only is this policy ineffective, but it is also hurting our housekeeping staff. They lose time with their families, cannot attend religious services, are unable to work second jobs, and have to pay for childcare on the weekends. This exploitation seems unimaginable. 

Wake up, Duke.

The Duke Community Standard claims that we are dedicated to principles of respect and fairness, yet these policy changes are a blatant disregard of these very principles. Put yourself in the shoes of our housekeepers. Does this system seem respectful or fair? I have talked to countless housekeepers, and can assure you that it is not. Our housekeepers are not just “resources.” They provide dignified work.

President Price, I encourage you to re-evaluate this policy. In your inaugural address, you said, “Our new century calls for a university... that confronts its own problems as readily as it does others... and that shows its most generous and supportive self to its own neighborhood.” To stay true to this goal, please help take care of the people who take care of us.

Jacob Glasser is a Trinity senior and a member of Duke Students and Workers Alliance (DSWA). 


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