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Cleaning cuts draw complaints

The absence of Saturday cleaning has taken its toll on both East and West Campus residence halls.
The absence of Saturday cleaning has taken its toll on both East and West Campus residence halls.

If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Saturday has become the new day of rest at Duke University.

In order to reduce the Residence Life and Housing Services budget, Joe Gonzalez, associate dean for residential life, said administrators decided in early July to reduce the cleaning schedule from six to five days a week. The day removed from the schedule was Saturday.

“Saturday was removed from the schedule because it was always a reduced effort compared to cleaning on Monday through Friday,” Gonzalez said. “Removing Saturday cleaning took away a much smaller component of the cleaning program.”

Although Gonzalez said removing Saturday from the schedule has helped to reduce the RLHS budget, he did not have specific numbers. The early retirement of several housekeepers over the summer led RLHS to eliminate seven housekeeping positions, and working hours had to be reduced to avoid extra overtime cost.

Still, many students said they thought it was an unwise decision to leave remnants from section parties and concerts to sit for 48 hours, given the general increase in social activity across campus on weekend nights.

The absence of Saturday cleaning has taken its toll on both East and West Campus residence halls.

“Someone threw up in the water fountain on my hall, and it sat there from Friday night to Monday morning,” said Aubree Dinning, a freshman living in Gilbert-Addoms Dormitory.

The new schedule has raised cleanliness and health issues. Gonzalez said a primary complaint has been concern regarding the H1N1 virus and its spread across campus.

“Bathrooms are disgusting on the weekends,” said Tian Yuan, a sophomore living in Craven Quadrangle. “The shower drains get clogged so water rises, and toilet paper runs out all the time.”

Several housekeepers declined to comment on the change to the schedule and the impact it has had on the cleaning staff.

Despite concerns, the elimination of Saturday cleaning was a carefully planned process.

In light of these retirements, RHLS leaders had to weigh the benefits of reducing the budget with the impact of the new schedule, Gonzalez said.

Some cleaning services are available on the weekends, said Alfred Raines, a housekeeper specialist. Students can contact RLHS if they have a specific need.

In previous years, cleaning on Saturdays consisted only of the removal of trash and recycling from waste disposal units.

The new cleaning policy is still under review and RLHS is open to feedback, Gonzalez said. He added that student input will affect the decision to re-evaluate or make permanent the change to the cleaning program.

Gonzalez said students can contact RLHS with complaints or comments about the policy.

“We are spending a lot of time evaluating the impact of this change so we can revisit the decision as needed,” he said.

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