Custodial shortage leaves U of L a mess

By on February 5, 2018

By Shelby Brown —

With 25 positions unfilled by the hiring freeze, buildings across campus are without custodians as trash piles up and entire buildings remain uncleared for weeks at a time.

U of L’s custodial shortage has forced some Strickler Hall staff into cleaning duty. With waste bins overflowing, coffee stains on the floors and bathrooms left unchecked, they purchased cleaning supplies out the Communication Department budget — a budget that could soon be cut.

“Our custodian count has decreased from 175 on July 1, 2016, to 150 on Jan. 15, 2018, primarily due to the campus hiring freeze,” university spokesperson John Karman said. “We are currently finishing a proposal to restore some of these positions as well as to provide additional custodial resources for the new buildings that will open on campus later this year.”

Keneka Cheatham, the Arts & Science communication unit business manager, said hallways have not been mopped in at least a month. She also said classrooms weren’t being vacuumed.

Cheatham said custodians who usually work in the College of Education and the School of Music have cleaned Strickler recently.

“We had a part-time instructor that brought her own vacuum in and vacuumed two of our classrooms because they were just getting that bad,” Cheatham said.

Along with the cleaning supplies, Cheatham said they’re going to purchase a vacuum that will be available for check-out.

“We’ve got to take things into our own hands because the cleaning is just not being done,” Cheatham said.

In a given day, Cheatham said she could spend up to an hour cleaning. She is also concerned about the dirty conditions with the severity of this season’s flu.

She said her department noticed the severity of the shortage when complaints from professors and students started pouring in.

“The really bad (day) was when one of the instructors pulled me into one of the rooms because it was so trashed and the students were complaining. When you get to the point where the students are complaining, then you have to do something,” A&S Program Assistant Lauren May said.

May said she’s thankful people were pitching in their time and resources to help.

“We had to pick up and do something. There’s a lot of people, it’s a big department and if we just let it go, it’s going to very quickly turn into a place where we don’t want to spend time,” May said.

Cheatham said an “exception to hire” form should allow for custodial hires. She questioned why the university has hired administrative positions over the lower wage jobs.

Note: The Cardinal reached out to physical plant and operations staff, who have not provided comments.

Photo by Shelby Brown / The Louisville Cardinal

About Shelby Brown

One Comment

  1. S

    February 9, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    I was wondering why you did not interview someone from the Physical Plant, especially a manager from Custodial Services? Is it balanced reporting to only talk to people on one side of an issue? Also, the picture you have of an outdoor trash can is not the responsibility of the Custodial staff.

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