Opinion: These are people

The Wichitan

Our view: In administrators’ quest to protect the bottom line, let us make certain they don’t forget one essential fact: These are people we’re talking about.

According to some administrators, their negotiations with SSC Support Services to outsource 94 maintenance jobs all come back to combating the university’s budget woes, but let’s not forget one compelling fact: These are people we’re talking about.

As numbers-driven as the proposal to outsource these crucial jobs is, we cannot remove the people from the equation. We can’t get lost in the numbers.

We know these are often the jobs that the public takes for granted.  Custodians are the invisible guardians of our facility, so to speak—seldom seen and scarcely heard. That is, until there’s a problem: The trash hasn’t been emptied in nearly a week, or weeds are taking over a once-pristine field of grass.

But that is rarely a problem at this university, and the reason for that could be found in the Monday meeting where maintenance staff expressed concern and confusion over potentially losing their benefits.

Even more noticeable than their justified concern, many staff members exhibited pride in what they do, and that pride extends directly from working for this university—not a corporation hundreds of miles away.

“As faithful employees who are proud of what we do,” preceded many questions and comments. Those aren’t the words of employees motivated by greed or a desire for more vacation days. Those are the words of human beings who take ownership of their work. Those are the words of people who want to know they are appreciated and valued for keeping this institution operational every day.

For a university president with less than a month left on the job, Jesse Rogers could have easily waited until he was out of the door to address this issue, avoiding any negative public reaction to the proposed deal. But he didn’t.

Rogers faced the issue head on and demonstrated all the traits of a responsible leader by attending the Monday meeting and speaking with custodians, groundskeepers and central plant operators because, it seems, Rogers understands their importance to this operation and likely joins them in the pride with which they work.

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