The Undergraduate Council of Students discussed two new initiatives focused on student-worker relations at its meeting Wednesday night.
“The workers on campus play a very large role in student life and student happiness,” said Viet Nguyen ’17, UCS president. “But there is often this divide between students and workers … and often not a lot of appreciation — or outward appreciation — of the people that help us.”
One initiative is modeled after Georgetown University’s Unsung Heroes project, which profiles “workers on campus, providing stories of where they came from, their lives, whatever they think is important,” Nguyen said. The council’s project, which is currently unnamed, will collect similar profiles of University workers and publicize their interviews on a Facebook page, said Yvonne Diabene ’19, director and chair of communications and head of the project.
“This semester will be mainly aimed at collecting 10 to 20 stories so that we have an archive,” Diabene added. The interview process will be based on a set of questions “that we thought would give the staff the best opportunity to share what they thought was meaningful, what they thought was important,” Dhruv Singh ’20 said.
The council will then begin publicizing the profiles at the beginning of the spring semester, Nguyen said. “This is a good way of providing students an entry point to acknowledging the humanity of people around us,” he added.
The second initiative is a staff member appreciation day, which will tentatively take the form of a breakfast or lunch event for campus staff, Nguyen said. “We also wanted to do something that’s more than just UCS putting on a food event,” he added. “One of the ideas that we had (was) having stands on the Main Green where students can write about why they’re appreciative,” as a way of facilitating an exchange between students and staff members, he said.
The council has funding for the project but is concentrating on ways to make the event more meaningful, such as including performances from student groups and having students serve staff members. “The one thing I don’t want to happen is for the staff (members) who attend this to just feel as though we or the administration or someone is just checking off a box,” said Naveen Srinivasan ’19, chair of the student activities committee.
UCS is also focused on finding a time for the dinner that will work for as many staff members as possible, Srinivasan said. “Our priority should be reaching as many staff members as we can,” said Tim Ittner ’18, vice president of UCS.
The council also discussed its ongoing initiative to stock free tampons and pads in all non-residential campus bathrooms. UCS hopes to institutionalize the provision of sanitary products through conversations with Facilities and a plan for long-term funding, said Lisa Schold ’19, the liaison between UCS and the Undergraduate Finance Board. UCS also considered switching to a cheaper brand of products, reevaluating its restocking schedule and tracking the use of its tampons and pads.