WU announces upkeep cutbacks

| Managing Editor

Come springtime, the large supply of tulips on campus will be nipped in the bud.

As a part of a plan designed to reduce the Washington University maintenance and landscaping budget by at least 5 percent, the number of tulips on campus will be cut in half.

The new plan will also reduce the number of on-call maintenance employees around the Danforth Campus, thereby producing a delay in response time. In addition, the University will employ the minimal number of custodial employees needed to keep campus clean, and the cleaning of offices and cubicles will now occur bimonthly instead of weekly.

“The University requested administrative support departments to begin the planning for a series of budget reductions almost a year ago,” Bill Wiley, the director of maintenance operations, wrote in an e-mail to Student Life. “Like a number of other administrative support departments, we are starting elements of the plan immediately to maximize the savings potential.”

All public spaces will continue to receive daily cleaning and trash removal.

“We have had numerous meetings to discuss this maintenance challenge among ourselves and hope that we can increase our productivity to avoid noticeable maintenance problems,” Wiley added in the e-mail. “We do not intend to tolerate lower campus cleanliness standards, but it will again be a challenge. For instance, we are discussing whether we should move a cleaning worker on a temporary basis from the Athletic Complex to Olin Library during the busy study period just before finals.”

Despite a 10 percent rise in the endowment since July 1, 2009, the University will lose $10 million in spending power from the endowment this year, according to a letter that Chancellor Mark Wrighton wrote to the University community on Monday. The restructuring of maintenance operations is just one of many departments that have had to make spending cuts.

Wiley emphasized that at this phase of the restructuring process, it is unclear how many employees will lose jobs, if any. Through retirement, redistribution of previously contracted work to maintenance staff and restricting overtime, the University hopes to keep as many current workers employed as possible.

All residential areas of campus will remain unaffected by these changes, but new maintenance staff will not be hired as more buildings open. Instead, the responsibility of current workers will be increased to these new areas.

“I can state for now however, the housekeeping for the residential side of campus will not be affected at all with these cutbacks as well as cleaning schedules will not be reduced,” Curt Harres, housekeeping manager for the Office of Residential Life, wrote in an e-mail.

In order for this program to become a permanent success, students and faculty will also need to contribute. By throwing away all trash left on tables and in common areas, keeping doors closed to maintain building temperature, not damaging walls with improperly posted signs, and possibly bringing full trash cans to central collection areas, the Wash. U. community can help ensure that current cleanliness standards are maintained.

Even with the full support of the University community, Wiley said that the plan will experience some setbacks.

“Our Facilities group has benchmarked well in recent years when measured against our counterparts at peer institutions, but we will be tested, miscalculate and make mistakes at times as we work through the future with reduced resources, but not significantly reduced goals,” Wiley wrote. “We need helpful feedback, understanding, cooperation and perhaps patience from our fellow members of the campus community.”

  • http://www.jeromebauer.com/victory.htm Jerome Bauer

    They say their own staff will not be laid off. Does that apply to outsourced and subcontracted staff as well? What kind of contract do the Aramark and Top Care workers have these days? I do not know. We would like to know. Please tell us.

  • http://www.jeromebauer.com/victory.htm Jerome Bauer

    Concerning all those tulips, they are pretty but they are really just for show, and are transplanted here and there just for show, then discarded when the prospective students and their parents have left campus. We would do better with permaculture, using native plants and some hardy exotics. I know some dedicated Top Care staffers would agree with me. I hope none of them are laid off.

  • Lee

    People should throw away their trash anyway. That includes when we are at movie theatres and ball parks. Same goes for the ball players. Have you ever seen the dugouts? What a shame…I am sure there are many workers (families) that will be hurting from the news of the maintenance staff cuts. Just wondering, will the administration and professors have a pay freeze? Can we say greedy?