Custodial Services to bill student organizations for cleanup of flyers

Story by Rob Hanson

Clubs, student organizations and anyone looking for free advertising make good use of the time spent in classrooms and lecture halls.

On any given day – especially in Hibbard Hall – the first thing some students see on their tables or desks are event notifications or advertisements in quarter-sheet form.

However, Custodial Services at UW-Eau Claire hopes to remind students and organizations that leaving paper in classrooms does have a cost. In fact, a cost of up to $90 per hour.

University policy allows Custodial Services to bill student organizations for the time it takes to clean up its flyers. The rate is $30 per hour in most academic buildings, except in Hibbard’s massive lecture halls where cleanup costs $90 per hour, according to an e-mail sent by custodial manager, Ray Francis.

Francis said it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to clean up quarter-sheets of paper in Hibbard lecture halls.

“They are not fines,” Francis said. “It is directly related to how much time it took the custodians to pick up the quarter sheets or whatever it was.”

Francis, who has worked in Custodial Services for more than 20 years, said the number of custodians has gone from more than 60 when he started to around 44. Because of less resources, Francis said the cleanliness of the university is compromised when custodians have to spend time picking up litter and thus devoting less time to other necessary cleaning.

Francis said flyers are not only a waste of paper, but a distraction to some.

“As one student told me today, ‘They’re annoying,'” Francis said. “They’re annoying just by being there.”

For the most part, student organizations agree.

Allison Kimble, president of the College Democrats, said although her organization was billed in Nov. 2009 because of the policy, she understands Custodial Services’ rationale.

Kimble said all of the student organizations were notified of the policy, but she did not personally know about it until after being billed.

“I think $30 is a little steep, but I can see how the administration would put it at that level to ensure that it just won’t happen,” Kimble said.

Dr. Paul Kaldjian, associate geography professor and advisor of Foodlums: Food Club of UWEC, agrees that leftover literature can turn into a mess and sometimes be a distraction for his students. Kaljian said the Foodlums have not distributed literature on paper because of its sustainability goals and have relied on electronic communication to spread organization news – a method Francis said is the answer for all student organizations.

“I think (leaving flyers is) an archaic method of sharing that information,” Franics said. “I’m sure (student organizations) are not thrilled with it, but as I say, maybe it’s time for them to come into the 21st century as far as sharing that information.”

That’s where Kimble disagrees. Security settings and the general principles of Facebook, Twitter and e-mail don’t allow organizations to reach random people who might be interested after stumbling upon literature, she said.

“It’s useful in that you’re not using as much paper and other products like that,” she said. “But at the same time you can only go as far as your circle will extend.”