A little respect where respect is long overdue

Andrew Callery

This piece is about the people on this campus who are underappreciated. I wanted to start this article with some “catchy” or “attention-grabbing” opening sentence, but in reality, that is exactly what this opinion article is about – those individuals who deserve a great deal of credit and respect but simply don’t receive it. I am going to use the following 1,000 or so words to do as much as I can to change that.

So who am I writing about? Some of these individuals arrive on campus before the sun rises, while others work throughout the night unbeknownst to the majority of the student body. They wash our dishes, shovel our snow and clean our bathrooms. They are the staff of Villanova University, and I am tired of their consistent efforts going unnoticed. It is time that they get their due; it is time that they receive the recognition they so greatly deserve.

I am currently a junior, and in my two and a half years on this campus, I have noticed the fruit of the staff’s labor wherever I’ve looked. I’ve seen mowed lawns, operating washing machines and quality food served at every meal. Such tasks done on a daily basis deserve commendation, and in my opinion, warrant an article written about them. At the most basic level, people who do such tolling work day after day would like recognition, wouldn’t you agree?

With this being said, however, I cannot honestly say that I am writing this article for these reasons. I am not writing about how great the lawn looks or the degree to which the bathrooms sparkle, even though that could be an article in itself. I am doing this, rather, because I am fed up. And I have been fed up for quite a while.

After spending a year in Sullivan Hall as a sophomore, I was subject to some rather deplorable conditions. And while this is not the place to get into details, it should be mentioned that most weekends led to some awful messes both inside and outside-of the building. But every weekend, no matter how he or she was feeling and no matter if he or she wanted to do it, the janitor who was assigned to my hallway would simply walk in and get to work. And this work, dare I say, was that which most people would never tolerate for such minimal pay.

(I was always taught that one should get to the point of his writing at the very beginning, but afterall, since I am not submitting this opinion piece for a grade, I’m going to get to the point halfway through.) Villanova, I ask you – why, if the staff does such valuable service for our University and community, do we not show them more respect? Why, when we are in line at the dining hall do we not strike up a conversation and thank the people serving us for all that they do? Why do we not thank the janitor we see in our bathroom mopping the floor?

Why do we not treat these people like human beings? Would we not expect and long for such recognition if we were in their situation, working long hours for the sake of others?

Some of you who are reading this have worked minimum wage jobs. You know how menial the work can get, and you know how rarely you are thanked for what you do. But when that one customer comes along and thanks you for your efforts, what a difference it makes. You have been acknowledged and you finally know that someone notices the hard work that you do.

What a great feeling. We ought to do this for those whom we encounter each day.

It truly is incredible how much of a difference a simple smile or kind word can make for an individual during his or her day.

This article is a long time in coming. I have thought about how deserving these people are of recognition and have even contemplated ways in which to do this. The bottom line is that I have not come up with some grand scheme on how to accomplish this goal. And while these people have continued to work long days doing their “less-than-desirable” duties, I’ve simply remained motionless. It is time for me to change this; I can no longer sit back and accept this injustice.

Villanova, I encourage all of you who are reading this to take these words to heart. When you are in line waiting for that cheesesteak at the Corner Grille, say hello to the people who are making it for you. When you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, thank the janitor who cleaned the sink for you. And when you’re walking in the Grotto and see someone shoveling snow, thank him or her for creating a safe walking path.

These people do so much for us; it is time for us to give them all the credit they deserve. And for those of you who already do this, bravo.For all the staff members that make Villanova what it is, I thank you. Your efforts do not go unnoticed. Without you, our University simply could not function, and for that I shall always be grateful. And, on a more personal level, please know that your work ethic and warm spirit are visible to all that you encounter.

If, after reading this article, someone goes out of his or her way to thank a staff member, I will consider this effort a success. Please, for the sake of those who serve us every day of every week, be that person.