Getting the job done

UW-Eau Claire custodians reflect on job duties, interacting with students


Photo by Anna Mateffy-The Spectator

While he never saw anything notably odd on the job, custodian Tom Johnson said he has heard a story of students trying to talk a custodian into letting them sleep overnight on the second floor of Schofield.

Imagine minding your own business at 2 a.m. cleaning Hibbard Humanities Hall for another day of classes, when all of a sudden there are voices heard down a dark empty hallway.

There’s no one in the hallway, so who could it be? This is a frequent occurrence for UW-Eau Claire custodian Donna Sell.

“Yes, we hear voices that’s a definite,” Sell said. “One year we heard little kids, very young kids, laughing and playing.”

Sell has been a custodian on the second floor of Hibbard for eight years, working during the evenings, and into the wee hours of the morning. While her nights are fairly routine and consistent, she said some shifts are worse than others.

“There’s good days and bad days,” Sell said. “Usually we can pick out the bad days. Last year it was Thursdays, this year it’s Tuesdays.”

Lead Custodian Charles Hill has worked for the university for 13 years. He worked in McPhee Strength and Performance Center for two years, first as a temporary custodian, then he became a full-time custodian. The past 11 years, he’s worked in Hibbard.

Hill oversees the custodial operations of Hibbard, where he mainly works on the third floor. He used to work solely on first floor until recently when he was moved to third floor.

Hill said his favorite part of the job is interacting with the students who are in Hibbard during his shifts.

“Meeting the students and stuff like that is cool,” Hill said. “Moving around the halls and learning where they’re from and why they’re here.”

Hill and Sell both said students generally keep the classrooms in Hibbard pretty clean. However, Hill said the more accessible trash receptacles are, the more likely students are to cut back on waste left behind.

Hill said trash cans used to only be in the hallways, which gave students an excuse to not dispose of garbage properly. Since then, trash cans have been placed in classrooms and lecture halls giving students no excuse to not throw away their garbage.

Apart from trash receptacles being in classrooms, there are an ample number of places to dispose trash on the first three floors of Hibbard. Sell said there is usually a trash can on every corner, and in the middle of the floors.

Sophomore Jake Ollanketo said custodians are often underappreciated.

“They probably have to deal with a lot of nasty stuff,” he said. “And no one really pays too much attention to them and their job.”

Sell said despite working all hours of the night, interacting and meeting with nice students is a high point of her job.

“We do run across students who don’t respect the job,” Sell said. “But then at times, we do run across students who are thanking us all the time.”