Letter to the Editor
While I appreciate your advocacy for our custodial staff in Facilities Services, your article “We try to do the best we can…” published on 11/8/22 lackedthe sort of journalistic balance more typical of the Justice. There were far too many factual errors for me to address in this letter, but I do want to set the record straight regarding the intent of our recent custodial workload reassignments, staffing levels, and your outreach to Campus Planning and Operations for information. I feel that the piece you published was unfair.
An analysis we conducted this past year of custodial workloads revealed a wide variation across the staff. For example, one residence hall custodian was responsible for cleaning 7,200 square feet (sf) while another residence hall custodian was responsible for cleaning 40,200 sf. Wide variations also existed among the custodians for academic buildings and for science. For more workload equity across staff, cleaning assignments were reassessed and adjustments were made where necessary — about half of the custodians experienced workload decreases or no change, and about half experienced workload increases.
Thus, the reassigned workload range among residence hall custodians was narrowed to 11,900-16,500 sf, with an average of 13,400 sf. The reassignment plan was presented in August and September to all custodial staff as well as to their supervisors and union representatives. Feedback on how the plan was working was encouraged the first two months of implementation during a trial period. Continuous feedback is encouraged at monthly staff meetings, daily though custodial supervisors and/or the manager, or directly to the director of Facilities Services. As a result of your article, a feedback form (in English and Spanish) has also been developed through which staff may submit comments anonymously.
During my three years leading Campus Planning and Operations, 15 custodians have been hired to fill positions vacant due to promotions, retirements, resignations, and the unfortunate passing away of staff. There are currently three open positions (a typical number of openings for a large organization) for which the Facilities Services Director Lori Kabel and her team are hiring. Early in the pandemic, there were another five positions put on hold due to the consequent hiring freeze and university-wide budget reductions; we continue to advocate for budget increases to cover the remaining vacancies.
Finally, I appreciate that the Justice interviewed Facilities Services employees; however, given the amount of accusations and vitriol in your article specific to the director, I do think that an interview with her and/or me was more than warranted to ensure fair and responsible reporting. You emailed me for answers to detailed questions on staff counts and budget over the years, but there was no indication this piece would so directly and negatively target a member of my leadership team. When we asked for more information about the story, you invited us to provide a statement, which we did. At no time did we receive a request for an interview as reported in your article. Again, I feel that the piece you published was unfair and a disservice to the Brandeis community, to Campus Planning and Operations, and the director of Facilities Services.
Lois Stanley, VP for Campus Planning and Operations
--Editors note, the Justice initially received this Letter to the Editor Nov. 17.