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Nida Abdullah '11.5: Staff Appreciation Day: 'Like'

I was really pleased with the Undergraduate Council of Students and the Office of Campus Life and Student Services' effort in coordinating Staff Appreciation Day. The staff appreciation buttons were really cute, and it didn't seem condescending at all to present them to our favorite Brown staffers. It felt kind of like giving my mom flowers on Mother's Day, but you know what moms say on Mother's Day: "Every day is Mother's Day." So it should be with the staff.

Someone wise once gave me good advice when I told them I was feeling homesick at school. They told me I should view the staff like my family away from home. I'm gladdened, and I can't help but be grateful when I see those smiles of recognition from them. I love sharing good news with them, shooting the breeze, and getting to know little things about their lives. These relationships are a crucial part of my experience here, and I urge other students not to miss out. They make us nicer, more considerate people. We would think twice before insulting the food (sometimes within earshot of the staff) if we cared about the people who prepared it. The exit signs would certainly take less of a beating if students forged a relationship with the custodians and other members of Facilities Management. We would smuggle less food from the Ratty if we thought of the Dining Services workers as our family. We would be more concerned about the 60 layoffs if more of us knew the people who were being fired. I have passed Stephen Gervais, a door guard at the Rock — you know, the one with the long, dirty-blonde hair — many times and not given a thought to him. Now, as he is slated to be laid off, I learn that he is in a band, a professional artist and an actor! ("Staff members share, reflect on their experiences," Apr. 8)

A friend recently told me that, as students, we are great multi-taskers, but she realized it is largely because we have so many people working to streamline our lives. We can grab our food at the Ratty and read while we eat and we never have to worry about cleaning up our hallways and stairwells after we stomp in with muddy boots. Have you seen the first-floor entrance of Wilson Hall when it rains? It's a mess of mud and water, but it always manages to disappear. I'm not advocating a mass rebellion because people are cleaning up after us — let's just make it easier on them.

Also, let's not allow them to feel invisible. We do a decent job in terms of acknowledging Dining Services workers and custodians, but what about landscapers, Facilities Management, event coordinators, etc.? These people shouldn't be invisible to us while they are on our turf, no more than we would like to be invisible to them if we were on their turf. Those of us who aspire for social equality, and apply to programs like Teach for America, certainly want to be acknowledged and appreciated even when we work amongst those who are in a different social class. To realize these ideals, starting at home is always best. If we made Brown the model society that we want to see the world become, it would have a better chance of being realized than if each of us try to make a difference as individuals.

I would also like to propose that students should do more work around campus — for instance, we could shovel the walkways after a big snowfall or perhaps organize a clean-up brigade on Sundays. Someone at a Student Labor Alliance community meeting suggested that the Brown University workers take a weekend off so that students can see how messy it gets. I believe a better idea would be for students and workers to switch places for a day, "Freaky Friday" style. Let them go to our classes and eat in the dining hall, and we'll handle the clean up and dining services. How sweet would that be? Of course, they would also have to do some of our homework, they couldn't just sit out on the Main Green all day throwing Frisbees and tanning.

This might seem a bit puerile and unnecessary, but the sooner we change our attitudes toward the workers, the better. It will serve us well later in life and make us less likely to ignore the little people when we are the big bosses in companies. I wonder if the people who messed up the economy on Wall Street were friendly with the workers and staff at their colleges. If their attitudes towards investors and their money are any indication, I would have to guess that they weren't.

So, in conclusion, Staff Appreciation Day and buttons: Like.


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