By Daleen Cowgar
Every day at five a.m., Malone University comes alive — not with students, but with the staff who keep Malone’s campus clean and safe. Lights flick on in classrooms as the cleaning staff disinfects every surface. Before long, they’ll begin making their way through each of the buildings to the dorms.
Kris Vincent is head of maintenance and housekeeping. After working at Malone for 29 years, he certainly has the lay of the land.
“[The housekeeping staff] is responsible for some general cleaning in offices and heavy-use areas like the gymnasium and locker rooms … they care for all the cleaning inside the residence halls [and] all the common spaces,” Vincent said.
In addition to the Malone-employed housekeeping staff, who work mornings from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., there is also a contract between Malone and a local cleaning company that clean the classrooms and public spaces again in the afternoon and evening.
Cindy Maddamma has worked at Malone for 14 years in order to help her husband and daughter get degrees from Malone. Her favorite part of working here is the students.
“I like the students; they always make me happy, because my kids are about [that] age, and everybody is so nice here,” Maddamma said. “If it wasn’t for [the students] we wouldn’t be here.”
As a resident assistant, Adriana Hershberger, junior intervention specialist major, has had many interactions with the housecleaning staff.
“I usually see them in my hall around 10:30 to 11 a.m.,” Hershberger said. “I always know when they’re coming because I can hear their voices from down the hall … They bring so much joy when they’re working.”
Hershberger wishes that more students would interact with the housekeeping staff.
“I don’t think [students] realize just how much these ladies love to talk with the people in this building,” Hershberger said. “[The ladies] love joking around. Honestly, I would definitely recommend just opening your doors when you hear them coming and pop your head out and be like ‘Hey, how’s it going?’”
The housekeeping staff has taken on a lot of extra work to ensure that the Malone campus is safe for students to inhabit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The students, staff and faculty — they’re the highest priority,” Maddamma said. “We try to make sure everything is [sanitized]. We try to clean things at least three times [during our shift].”
“We’re not doing anything like we used to,” Vincent said. “It’s a completely different operating scenario from pre-COVID-19. We basically [work] double duty, [trying to hit] every touch surface at least a couple times a day. ”
Not only have the cleaning crews increased their routines by cleaning things multiple times in one day, but they also refill the new hand sanitizer stations and all of the cleaning caddies throughout the classrooms and dorm halls.
The housekeeping staff has also invested in additional tools to help in the fight against COVID-19.
“We’ve purchased some electrostatic spray sprayers,” Vincent said. “The spray that is discharged is electrically charged so that it’s looking for hard surfaces to land on. So, it does a really good job of covering those surfaces … We’ve got backpack sprayers and individual hand sprayers.”
These sprayers are used in the classrooms before students arrive to clean desks, chairs, doorknobs, light switches and anything else that students might touch.
The housecleaning staff works hard to keep things clean, but they also want to hear from students if there are areas that need extra attention.
“We care deeply about how we manage the facilities here and the spaces that our students occupy,” Vincent said. “We want them to be clean and we want to know when they’re not.”
If you notice an area that is dirty or may need some extra care, there are several ways to submit a request.
The quickest way is through Malone Xpress. When you first log in, there is a link in the sidebar called “Housekeeping, Grounds and Maintenance Requests.” This will take you to a form where you can submit any housekeeping or maintenance issues. This same form can also be found at malone.edu by using the search bar, along with the phone numbers to different facilities managers such as housekeeping, maintenance, or groundskeeping.
“These people are all considered essential workers,” Vincent said. “In other words, we need to be here every day. But we know we need to be here every day because there are people like our students, our faculty and our staff that are here working [who] depend on us.”
The hard work the cleaning staff members put in to keep things clean and disinfected against COVID-19 deserves the admiration of the student body. Without them, there’s no way students could safely live and attend classes on campus!