Facilities Seeks to Cleanup Campus Grunge

Olga Ramaz

Maintenance and Facilities has responded to the concern on campus over the deteriorating maintenance conditions. According to Dan Padilla, manager of Maintenance and Facilities, the consultant will be arriving in the next couple of weeks to survey the campus and help the department establish a permanent cleaning schedule.

With the addition of two new custodians, who were hired for the new building and parking structure, Padilla hopes that more can be done around campus to ensure that it remains clean.

“I think that the administration recognized that not only do we need them for the new building, but we are [currently] short-handed as well,” said Padilla.

There are currently 20 custodians in charge of campus cleanup. These 20 custodians are split between morning and evening shifts in order to balance the workload and, most importantly, keep the campus clean during school hours. However, the evening shift will soon undergo a change in scheduling in order to facilitate the maintenance of the campus as well as the individual classrooms.

The evening shift is currently scheduled from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., which has proven to be an inconvenience for custodial personnel. Aide Trejo, an evening shift custodian in charge of the first floor of the San Gabriel building, said that it is difficult to work while evening classes are in session.

Trejo has had to skip classrooms and return to them when they are unoccupied, which she said results in time loss and inefficient clean up.
In order to cover more ground on campus and avoid having to skip classrooms, the evening shift will work from 10 p.m. through 6:30 a.m., a change which Trejo believes is “good” and will allow her to go “directly into cleaning.”

Generally, two custodians are assigned to a building on campus, but when one is sick, the responsibility to clean the entire building falls on the shoulders of a single worker.

Trejo has had to cover for colleagues on several occasions, doubling her workload. She said that she “wants to keep her own [assigned] building clean,” but it is difficult when she does the job of others, forcing her to “neglect” some of her custodial duties.

She believes that the newly hired custodians will help the workload “balance out.”

Bill Taylor, director of Business Services, concurs with Trejo’s sentiment. He recognizes that the custodial shortage makes it difficult for the campus to remain consistently clean.

“[Sometimes] we are lucky if we even get our trash removed,” said Taylor.
However, the biggest cleaning issue for custodians is not the removal of trash in the classrooms and offices; it is the consistent maintenance of bathrooms.

According to Padilla, the bathrooms on campus are the biggest problem and require cleanup at least twice a day.

Padilla has designated some members of the custodial crew to specifically maintain the bathrooms during school hours.

The first round of bathroom cleanup is in the early hours of the day when the custodians re-stock toilet paper, toilet seat covers and do emergency cleanup, if need be.

The second and final round of bathroom maintenance is the “final cleanup,” when personnel goes into the bathrooms and inspects the conditions. Any final cleaning that needs to be made is taken care of before the end of the school day.

To keep track of how many times a day the bathrooms are being taken care of, Padilla has placed inspection cards on the bathroom doors that record time and dates of when the bathrooms were cleaned and by whom.

“Sometimes they’ll [custodians] go and they’ll clean it at 11 a.m. and by noon, students come in and trash the place,” said Padilla, in reference to the bathrooms on campus. “If the students were more considerate of the mess that they’re leaving, it would make our job so much easier.”

Dinh Luu, an EOPS counselor, agrees that there are many things one can do to contribute to campus cleanup. Luu said that she tries to stomp down papers in the trash can in order to make room for more trash. However, she said that sometimes even this does not motivate people to dispose of trash in their proper place.

The second biggest problem on campus is graffiti and vandalism, which Padilla assures, is a “huge” problem.

The graffiti, according to Padilla, goes through waves, occurring on a sporadic basis.
“The hardest thing is to get rid of it on an immediate basis,” he added. “It’s not a problem we can stop.”
Maintenance and Facilities has asked the faculty and staff to report any graffiti immediately in order to quickly address it. Padilla believes that the longer the graffiti stays up, the more people are inclined to add to it.
According to Padilla, the campus police take photos of the graffiti and catalogues it in an effort to determine whether or not the tagging is gang- related.
Some of the areas that have been the recent target of graffiti and vandalism are restrooms [stalls], elevators and the outside of buildings.
For the most part, the graffiti in the elevators is done with markers, which is not difficult to remove. However, when people start to scratch into the steel, it makes it much more difficult for maintenance personnel to remove it, and in turn it generates a financial blow to the campus.
It costs $1,100 to $1,500 to polish out the scratches in each elevator. Maintenance and Facilities plans to purchase patterned steel panels to halt vandalism in the elevators; however, Padilla said that such panels are expensive.
The department also plans to hire a full-time painter who will take care of painting over graffiti as well as taking care of remedial painting jobs throughout the campus. As a standard, painting is supposed to be done every three years for the inside of the buildings and every five years for the outside. But with the shortage of employees and the lack of funds, painting duties have been irregular.
Trash around the campus is also a problem, according to Padilla.
Although Maintenance and Facilities try to keep trash cans readily available all throughout the campus, there are still a handful of people who disregard them and dump their trash on the ground.
“It’s unfortunate but, a lot of students like to throw trash on the ground,” he said. “[It seems like, to them, it’s an] extra effort to walk to a trash can.”
However, there are some people on campus who pick up, not only for themselves, but for other people as well.
“I don’t mind picking up after people [when they leave trash behind],” said 18-year-old student Levik Megerdishian.” “But people should make an effort to throw away their trash.”
As it stands, Maintenance and Facilities does not have a fixed budget needed to carry out their duties. It takes approximately $1.5 million to maintain the campus on a yearly basis. Currently, Padilla is working on obtaining a yearly budget for the department.
It is Padilla’s hope that the outside consultant will be able to determine the “actual workload of this campus,” how much work is actually required and how long it takes to accomplish these tasks.
“We want to develop [fixed] routines based on how many people we have,” he said. “What I want to do [then] is publish this [routine] so that the campus knows what is going to be done and what they can expect to see accomplished on a regular basis.”
“I think that is going to help a lot if people know what to expect,” he added. “And if they want more [to be done on campus], then they are going to help me [pitch in or hire more people.]”
Although Padilla expects the current conditions to improve, he recognizes that there has to be some sort of accountability from everyone on campus in order to keep GCC clean.
“It’s difficult to do more than just mention these kinds of things,” he said. “I don’t think there is enough accountability with the students or the faculty, and I know that their job is difficult just trying to teach, but if everyone was working together with the common goal to keep the campus clean, it would really help.”