Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Office of the President


A different routine for a Monday morning

Posted on November 16, 2010

Last Monday I reported to the Admission Office at 6 a.m. instead of the gym (my usual routine).  My assignment: to join a housekeeping team. The idea had occurred to me during the Moonlight Brunch, as I stood in back of the counter serving scrambled eggs. The event gave me a new view of our community and a closer look at some of what it takes to run the campus smoothly. I decided that I wanted to see more.

Presidents don’t get to view campus life from the service side of the counter very often. Arguably, we should. A college’s success represents the sum of thousands of interactions. A president’s responsibilities often take him or her away from those  realities; I wanted to be in touch with them. So, Barbara Lema had made the arrangements for me to join buildings staff for the morning.

My team consisted of Alice, Mary Lou, Ellie, and Clair.  We started in the Admission Office; my task was to vacuum.  From the Admission Office we moved to Stanton.  Here the team was split up.  Ellie, Mary Lou, and I walked to the top floor where we began cleaning the bathrooms.  I cleaned the sinks, the mirrors, and mopped the floor.  Thankfully, the bathrooms were not all that bad. In fact, my team members jokingly asked if I had sent an email to the students warning them that I would be cleaning the bathrooms on Monday morning. It soon became clear I had not given the hall a heads-up. On our way to tackle the lounge and laundry room in the basement we passed by several rooms with lacrosse equipment and uniforms strewn across the floor and a most unsavory smell.

My final task with the group was cleaning Beard Hall.  Although I have been in the lounges of Beard many times, I had no idea it contained fifteen bathrooms. Ellie and I began by emptying the trash, replacing the can liners and taking the trash outside.  And then came more vacuuming. By the time 9 a.m. arrived, I no longer missed my workout at the gym.

My goal for this blog reflects my purpose in joining the cleaning team for a morning: staying in touch with the community and sharing ideas and perspectives. I learned a lot working with Alice, Mary Lou, Ellie, and Clair.  They are an awesome team, and I am truly proud to be associated with them. First of all, I learned how efficient the new team approach to housekeeping can be—at least this team made it so. I also appreciate the variety of sustainable products that we are using in housekeeping. Finally, I was truly impressed with the commitment and dedication of these women to their jobs. When I left to start my day in the office, I was very well aware that Alice, Mary Lou, Ellie, and Clair still had four and one- half hours to go!

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