Teacher and students exact justice on dirt

At promptly 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, the entirety of Pierce instructor Kim Rich’s criminal justice class instituted the first top-to-bottom scrubbing a Village classroom has known in her time teaching there.

Rich, who has been in the temporary Village structures for four years, said that the only type of janitorial support she receives from Facilities staff is empty trash cans.

“We were only supposed to be out here [in the Village] for a year, then it became two, three, four,” she said. “Half the stuff doesn’t work. We’re just kind of out here.”

So Rich, fed up with the dirty work environment, spent a personal $200 on brooms, long-handled deck scrubbers, blue Nitrile gloves, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, muck buckets, a variety of liquid cleaners, donuts and candy and asked her students to help clean the classroom after their quiz – and they did, she said.

Working a deck scrubber against the tired plastic thatch wallpaper covered in bits of gum and dark mystery fingers of dried liquid was Jesse Cortez, who has been taking Rich’s classes in the Village for two years.

“It’s pretty disgusting,” Cortez said. “It’s always been like this.”

Also helping out her classmates was Samira Noorzad, an 18-year-old criminal justice major, who was cleaning the door that leads outside to the soccer fields, which is blamed for some of the mess.

“I didn’t even think it was this dirty until I started cleaning. It’s really gross,” Noorzad said. “Some classes have carpet, so imagine how dirty that is.”

Rich said she hopes this day’s effort might be the beginning of a cleaning trend amongst students and teachers.

Kathy Oborn, who chairs the criminal justice department and also spent personal money on mini-blinds for the classroom, said she’s noted the classroom is always unlocked on weekends and that there have been kids in the room watching league games.

“Some kids came in on the weekend, took the fire extinguishers and decorated the whole classroom,” Oborn said.

She went on to say that she acknowledges that the college is “terribly short-staffed” in custodial services and that students nowadays aren’t as socially conscious of their surroundings.

Further, Oborn noted that the number of custodial staff has not increased commensurate with the increase in square footage from new construction.

A Facilities Advisory Committee-approved Action Item #FAC 9162013 does seem to forecast a need for human resources to maintain newly constructed buildings. But whether or not that item is carried to fruition is another matter.

In March 2013, Work Environment Committee noted in meeting minutes that faculty in the Village has complained about excessive filth while at the same time WEC posed no apparent solution to the problem of reduced custodial staff in the Village.

“I’ve talked to everybody and they’re all fed up, but they also know that nothing is being done about it,” Rich said. “I don’t think a clean environment is too much to ask for.”