By Brooke Schultz
As students move in to their dorms at the start of the new academic year those with suite-style rooms are in for some changes. On Aug. 10, students were notified that in Chester, Corsica, Sassafras, Harford, Western Shore, and Kent Crossing, housekeepers would no longer clean their bathrooms.
“One of the central goals of Washington College is to help you be ready for life beyond your years with us,” an email sent to the affected students from Residence Life said. “This is designed to help each of you take steps toward independent living.”
To help students keep their spaces clean, WC has issued a “starter kit” to each dorm affected in the change. The kit comes with a cleaning bucket; gloves; scrub brush, for floor and shower; toilet bowl brush; Green Works Disinfectant; and red, blue, and green microfiber cloths. Students are expected to purchase “whichever products they want to use after that,” according to the email release.
Aside from the cleaning supplies, students were also given a “Dorm Restroom Cleaning Procedures” sheet, which lists seven steps to keeping their personal bathrooms clean.
Janet Grimes has been a housekeeper at WC for10 years, and she’s been tasked with cleaning the Cullen dorms, the Quad, Western Shore, and Hodson during her time here. From 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Grimes said that she would work on cleaning the buildings alone, never taking a lunch.
Grimes mentioned that other colleges are moving to this independent system, which could be a reason for the change.
There is also a benefit to the change for the housekeepers. When one housekeeper doesn’t come to work, the others are responsible for their own buildings as well as the other buildings. “It would be a lot easier for us having to do this coverage,” she said.
In the dorms with communal bathrooms, Grimes said Mondays were the most difficult cleaning days, as the housekeepers didn’t tend to the dorms over the weekend, but by Thursday, she said the dorms were mostly tidy, allowing them an easier day. The suite-style rooms were “miraculous” in comparison to the communal bathrooms, she said.
Junior Keri Edmonds is a resident of Western Shore for the upcoming year. After spending two years in a “regular room,” she said she was disappointed when she first heard of the change.
She understands the benefits of the alteration, however. She mentioned keeping the dorm room private was a positive element of the change. Edmonds knows how to clean a bathroom, so this won’t be a difficult adjustment, though she was still somewhat dissatisfied when considering the cost of the housing.
The price of living in a suite like Chester, Sassafras, Corsica, and Kent Crossing is currently $3,432 per semester according to the Business Office website, which is nearly $1,000 more than a room in Minta Martin or Reid Hall.
She does appreciate that there is a cleaning kit supplied to each room, though she also bought her own additional supplies just in case.
The College also plans to provide students with toilet paper and trash bags to take whenever needed from an “accessible location in each building.”
As for helping to prepare students for with independent living, Edmonds said that she thinks it will only make things more stressful and could complicate the roommate situation. “I have to pick a day to clean the apartment,” she said, which she said is difficult as a college student. “I understand where they’re coming from in all this, but I think it’s just a move to cut budget.”
Junior Simon Belcher, a Harford resident, said that he was indifferent to the change. “I think it’ll kind of figure itself out,” he said. “Suite bathrooms have a fairly limited number of people using them compared to other dorm bathrooms, and I feel like everyone in my suite will be fairly respectful of the facilities.”
Resident Area Director Alyxandra Cash does think it will have a positive influence. She said, “The reality is that cleaning skills are very much necessary to have for post-grad life. As long as the students affected by this are willing to take responsibility and share the cleaning duties amongst themselves in each suite, I think it will have a very positive affect on the college and students.”
Grimes said that she has kids and a part of raising them is teaching them skills, like how to live more independently. “For the ones who have busy schedules, it’s going to be hard on you,” she said.
Students who struggle with the change can contact housekeeping or Residence Life with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.