Housekeepers find strange items while cleaning

Herman Smith, 58, makes a clean sweep in the cafeteria. (Photo by Kalia White)

By Rylie Frohock
The Scene staff

College housekeepers are unsung heroes, cleaning up messes that students leave behind and keeping classrooms and offices neat and safe.

The staff at Forest Park is no exception.

Housekeepers keep the campus aesthetically pleasing and get rid of items students, faculty and other staff wouldn’t dare touch.
“I’ve found a lot of women’s panties in the restroom,” said housekeeper Alice “Moe” Moore, 46. “Vodka bottles. A lot of alcoholic beverages. I’ve seen people defecate and write their names on the wall with it.”

Moore has been working in housekeeping for 25 years, including 15 years at Forest Park. She enjoys the college atmosphere, despite the messes.

“There’s a lot I like about the job,” she said. “Mostly the students. … There are very few places you can work as a housekeeper where you don’t feel like you’re lower class. This is one of those places that makes you feel like you’re on the same level as everyone else.”

The Housekeeping Department has 24 employees, including 23 full time and one part time. They’re responsible for cleaning bathrooms, emptying trash cans and sweeping floors in classrooms, offices, lounges and the cafeteria. They also wax floors and wash chalkboards at the end of each semester.

Full-time housekeepers work Mondays through Fridays. Like others at Forest Park, they get paid holidays and vacations.

“The housekeeping staff is here Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the late shift is from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.,” said Facilities supervisor Dennis Kozlowski, 56.

Moore’s biggest challenge is trying to be everywhere she needs to be at the same time.

“If I’m in A Tower, I can’t be in G Tower,” she said. “You can’t please everybody, so I do my job.”

Housekeeper Keith Jackson, 50, has a similar philosophy. He worked in hospitals before joining the Forest Park staff 17 years ago.

Today, Jackson is in charge of keeping the floors in the gym and the pools clean.

“I enjoy keeping everything looking good, because I look good,” he said. “I’ve got a job, and I get weekends (off) and holidays off with pay.”

Jackson has found a lot of valuable items around campus, such as cellphones, purses, backpacks, keys and wallets. These are turned into Campus Police lost and found.

Lead housekeeper Herman Smith, 58, has been working at Forest Park for nearly 40 years. His uncle was a supervisor when he was hired.

Smith’s favorite part of the job is “being at work every day. I don’t have a least favorite part of the job,” he said.

Smith has found many of the same items as Moore and Jackson, as well as expensive jewelry all over campus.

Smith sees used condoms all over, “especially under the steps. … I love seeing the students clean up after themselves,” he said.

“But if they didn’t make messes, they wouldn’t need me.”

Moore echoed Smith’s sentiments on this subject.

“Keep making your messes,” she said. “But keep it modest.”

Business Service specialist Marla Bowers notes that some students are messier at school than they are at home. She encourages them to change their ways.

“It still gives the housekeepers a job that they can do that doesn’t overwhelm them,” she said. “To me, it’s about respect to the housekeepers, to not just assume that they’re here to pick up after you.”

Graphic communications major Caleb Hayes, 19, also appreciates the housekeeping staff.

“We can continue minimizing the amounts of trash, like water bottles and chip bags,” he said, adding that students “can do more around here.”