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Dear student body,

I often hear people calling for us to act as a community; that is to respect one another, to try and understand the customs and beliefs of others even if we do not agree with them. I’ve noticed recently that some only tend to apply those requests to things that matter to us or directly affect us as individuals. While people have no problem proclaiming “We are ENC” during events and sports games, people seem to forget that even in the small things (like our time in the cafeteria) that “we are ENC.” As a student worker, I don’t expect to be applauded while doing my job, but I do expect respect. By leaving dishes on the table, scattering napkins all over the floor, purposefully spilling liquids on plates, or dumping salt and pepper on the tables and leaving it there for me, or another student worker, to clean up is blatant disrespect.

This happens throughout the cafeteria, day and night but remains relegated to certain areas that are the “unassigned assigned seats” for the same groups of students. So to you all who occupy these seats, I have a few questions: how would you feel if someone constantly trashed the baseball field or broke your bats? How would you feel if people vandalized the gym or flattened your balls? How would you feel if your office, theater, or library was violated?

I’m sure that you would be upset, and that other members of the student body and authority figures would be upset. If the situation was reversed, there would be an outcry for whoever is doing such things to be punished. Since we are just “lowly” cafeteria workers, there will be no outcry; no one stands by our side and asks for the culprits to be punished. Do I and other student workers not deserve respect because we work in the cafeteria and that sometimes requires us to clean up after you?

There are a variety of reasons why we work on campus in the cafeteria, or other places such as facilities. There are countless reasons why we need a job, but it doesn’t matter why. What matters is the lack of respect student workers are shown, and how cleaning up extra messes that you leave behind cuts into our time to do other things.

Some of you may be thinking: “Why are you complaining? Don’t you get paid for it?” Yes, I do get paid for my job. Guess what? It is not my actual job to put your dirty dishes where they belong after you’re done eating. I may have to clean the tables after a meal, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a maid picking up after you. This is not a restaurant; I am not your waitress or a busboy. Even when you don’t feel like walking five seconds to the dish room to put away your dishes and cups, you still need to be responsible for cleaning up your own messes.

I am asking on behalf of all student workers to be treated with respect, and for everyone to remember that we are not “ENC” just during a sports game, but also during the simple, everyday moments of life here. If we are called to be a community and support each other, that call does not end when we enter the cafeteria. Please be considerate of how your actions affect others. Cleaning your dishes, or pushing in chairs are simple things that we are all more than capable of doing, and if we can’t do them ourselves, a real friend would be willing to do them for us.

So, peers, hold your friends accountable. Coaches that have meals in the cafeteria, hold students and other coaches accountable. R.D.s, R.A.s, hold each other and students accountable. Remember the people who are working hard in keeping the cafeteria clean, instead of pretending they’re in the background.


A Cafeteria Worker