[media-credit id=2200 align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]By Julianna Coscia and Charlotte Gardner
Settling into a new dorm building doesn’t always feel the same as settling into your room at home. It can feel unfamiliar and out of touch – lacking the unspoken comfort that only a place like home can have. However, in the Commons residence hall, notorious for its messy bathrooms, facilities workers try to give students a simple sense of home in the best way they can: by cleaning and maintaining the building.
“We do as much as we can…to have the bathroom cleaned, since you guys are away from home,” facilities worker Caroline Luna said.
Commons has a reputation for being the most poorly-treated freshman dorm on campus. Residents were repeatedly fined last year for knocking out ceiling tiles and breaking exit signs during May Weekend. The bathrooms unfortunately receive the same type of treatment, resulting in emails being sent out reminding students of actions and behaviors that cannot take place in the restrooms.
“It’s a hard task,” Luna said about maintaining the bathrooms every day, “but we try to make it possible.”
For Luna, her journey to Quinnipiac was not planned from the start. Before she came to the United States, Luna had already begun her career working as a dental assistant.
“I left what I went to school for and came to Quinnipiac University,” Luna said. “There’s more opportunities for my kids and for myself.”
From a young age, coming to the United States was a dream of hers.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Luna waited patiently for 21 years before she was able to come to the U.S.
“I come from a tropical place, the Dominican Republic,” Luna reflected. “I was adopted…my mom got her papers, and she had to come here [to the United States]. But since I wasn’t her natural childhood daughter, …she couldn’t ask me to come to the United States.”
Luckily, love came into play and was able to help Luna come to the United States. She married an American citizen, and expressed her thankfulness and gratitude to be able to move here.
“He brought me over, and the rest of my family was here,” Luna said. “But after that, I came here because my mom, my father, my sister – everybody’s here. So it was a good opportunity, and I was blessed to come here to the U.S.”
Luna has been employed at the university for four years, working every Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m until 4 p.m.
Working at the university has heavily benefited Luna and her family, but has also given her a job that has brought her happiness above all.
“Trust me, I love it here,” Luna said. “They say you need to love what you do, probably it’s not a job that I want to do, but just to feel like I’m helping you guys, you know? And just because its helping myself too, helping to raise my kids.”
Luna is mother to two girls, Gabriella, 10, and Mia Bella, five.
“I have a 10 year old, Gabriella,” Luna said. “She loves piano, music [and] art. And then I have Mia Bella. She’s five, and she’s totally the opposite. She’s really active, she likes soccer [and] she’s running everywhere.”
Being a facilities worker at any college can have its challenges, and Quinnipiac is no exception. With each communal bathroom shared by roughly 40 people, the areas frequently get messy, and often become a point of concern for residents and facilities workers. This semester, the Commons resident director, Josh Turner, has sent three emails to the residents of Commons regarding the poor conditions the facilities have been left in – specifically the boys’ bathrooms.
“Every mess that Facilities has to clean up (above and beyond standard cleaning) has a fee assigned,” one email form Turner reads. “You will be billed at the end of the year for the cumulative total of all these incidents. We are taking this action since the behaviors have not changed and no resident has come forward to take responsibility, and no resident has indicated that they know who is responsible. These behaviors are extremely disrespectful to each of our Facilities staff members, to the RA staff who continually address these concerns, and to one another as shared community members. We expect that these behaviors change immediately.”
Luna concedes to Turner’s claims about the states of the bathrooms, but she uses these moments to work on making the bathrooms more functional and sanitary for the residents’ use.
“Everyday we try to improve,” Luna said. “Sometimes there are better days, sometimes there’s horrible days.”
Having resident assistants and the residence hall directors send out these emails has been extremely helpful to the facilities staff, regardless of the inclusion of potential fines.
“So far my RA’s are really great,” Luna said. “I get along with all of them, and if there are any problems I tell them, and they send an email…I think they do a really good job. We tell [Turner] so he can address the problem.”
Another helpful addition to the facilities members’ working lives is their interactions with the students. Luna remarks that she has made great connections with the students who live on the floor she is in charge of, and that these relationships mean a lot to her.
“The students [on her floor] know my name,” Luna said. “It’s very important to interact with them and sometimes I feel that some of the kids are going through struggles, so it’s good to let them know that [when] they are away from home…they have somebody here. So I think I have good communication with them.”
When asked what the best quality of the residents is, Luna explained that it is their respect and well-mannered behavior.
“They say hi – not all of them, but most of them,” Luna said. “Since I have all girls they’re really nice… they are respectful here and I appreciate that. Sometimes they’re like ‘Oh Caroline do you want something?’ or whatever, so that’s nice and I see that from them, it’s really good.”
But what Luna values most is the opportunities Quinnipiac has given to her and her family.
“I love working here. I love the staff [and] I love all the opportunity that Quinnipiac [has] offered me.”
The facilities staff may be seen as familiar faces walking around residents halls, seemingly focused only on cleaning. But they are more than just strangers who come in every day to maintain the students’ buildings – they genuinely care for their jobs, the university, and the lives of all those who attend it.
“It changed my life completely,” Luna said. “Just thinking about my kids [being] secure in college – it’s a relief for me.”