Category Archives: Viewpoints

Custodial Staff’s Letter to the Voice in ’21 Detailing Their Mistreatment

Letter received by the Voice in Feb. 2021 details the mistreatment of the custodial staff on Wooster’s campus.


Custodians at the College of Wooster used to be happy, used to love coming to work. All changed when the new management came and acted nice, promised nothing would change…all lies. Very two faced. Since the pandemic, our two bosses, Scott and Mike Taylor have not asked our opinion, our preference on work, nothing, but in the same breath they will say they appreciate us. Everyday we act like we’re fine, we’re ok, we have tried to say something many times, we feel unsafe, we feel uncomfortable, we don’t want to switch shifts or dorms. We have written to President Bolton but have gotten no response. We feel alone, unhappy and some of us even have panic attacks, and have to get on anxiety medicine. 

Before, we would get to pick a dorm to clean for the whole year and sometimes longer, which partner we wanted in our dorm, or if we prefer to work alone, we would be able to do so. That’s how it has always been. As soon as the new management came, we were told nothing would change. People have been doing this for 20+ years. Before we knew everything was changing, we would say we didn’t like it and Scot would say, “Oh it’s temporary or basically tough!” We are the ones doing the work. We know how to do it and they don’t care what we are doing. Some of us are so scared to say anything, we smile and say, “It’s fine, we don’t mind” but all of us talk throughout the day/week so we know how people feel. They told us that because of Covid they had to meet with the Health Department, or follow someone else’s guidelines so they had to have an outside cleaning company come in and clean when we were off. We thought they meant the 2nd shift since we work the first shift. Nope! Cleaning crew that does a terrible job by the way and was fired years ago by Smuckers in Orrville got put on 1st shift people on custodial 5am-1pm shift either got fired or was made to move to 7-3am shift. The 7pm-3am shift lost people. They pulled some 7-3am shift people to move to 2nd shift, 3pm-11pm and if people couldn’t change their lives like that, they were let go. Some were here for 10+ years! Common sense is 5pm-1am shift, no schedule changes and the same with the 7pm-3am shift. If the cleaning crew had to come in then put them on an evening shift. We are forced to move to different dorms. It used to be weekly then, bi-weekly now, we’ve been in the same for dorms three weeks now. We want to be in same dorm and be able to choose our partners. We are not children and we don’t need to be babysat. We said something to Mike and Scott about it. We didn’t want to move all the time and have different partners all the time. We didn’t feel safe and students would rather see the same custodians all year in their dorm. All they said was students need to grow up and that they didn’t need a mother figure. They said that everyone needs to get to know each other and train in dorms. They said that the college is safe and no one is getting COVID. Two weeks later, COVID started spreading on campus. We had warned them. Then, they continued to switch our shifts and custodians started getting sick.  Even if we had symptoms they made us come to work until our test results came in. If a student had COVID, they wouldn’t tell us what dorm so we could be extra careful. They said it was against privacy laws, but it is not. It is illegal to give the name of a person who has it, yes, but not where their dorm is. They switched to a cleaner which they said is effective against COVID but the ingredients were exactly what we were using before. Nowhere on bottle does it say that the cleaner kills COVID. They are getting cheaper, buying cheaper supplies, and saying that the budget is low even though they bought new trucks and vans. We were hired for certain jobs and certain hours and to mess a family up like that is horrible, but they [Scott and Mike] come in at times when it’s convenient for them. We do hard physical work while they sit in an office or drive in air conditioning. We use our own gas in our personal vehicle, sweat in the summer and they act as if they care. This is about power to them. They don’t care. We do not want to move dorms. If we wanted to meet people on other shifts, we would be a door greeter. We work hard cleaning, then a different group comes in and doesn’t care or doesn’t work like we do. It feels like it was all for nothing. Maintenance people are upset and have actually quit because of the changes to custodial staff. We have to pretend we are ok because they will have one of them tell us not to stand close together which makes no sense because he puts us in a building with different people, or we see them 2 or 2 other “bosses” in same truck together. They have put people down like we are just a body to them. They make comments like we are dumb like…“Oh it’s above her pay grade” or just talk to us like we are stupid. The 5-1 shift wants back to 5-1, 7-3 wants things back to normal. If there are people they know we don’t get along with, they put us with them. The people we like are our “work family.” We are never with them. We want to be happy to come to work again. It used to be so exciting to come to work. Now, we all wish we had different jobs. 

Letter from Faculty Members

Désirée Weber
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Joan S. Friedman
Lincoln Professor of Religion and Professor of History




The recently announced decisions to outsource the College’s dining staff and to pursue outsourcing the custodial staff raise important questions about the nature of our campus community. 

These are complex and difficult decisions in all regards. But deciding that outsourcing, rather than some other solution, is the best course of action raises bigger questions about the College’s values and decision-making processes. 

The coincidence of the pandemic and the Lowry renovations created a perfect storm that exacerbated the difficult work conditions that we have heard about both from administration and dining workers themselves:  chronic under-staffing, increasing and changing demands, and too few resources to accomplish their assigned tasks.  But how did it transpire that these temporary, extraordinary circumstances led to what will be a permanent decision? 

As faculty members, we are in some sense not directly affected by this decision, nor will we suffer any consequences for speaking up.  Thus we are mindful simultaneously of the obligation not to presume to speak for others, but also of the obligation to use whatever power we have, if it can do some good.  So this letter comes after receiving assurances that it reflects the concerns of employees who are in situations that make them hesitate to speak for themselves.  

We therefore want to raise these issues to the whole campus community, as it is all of our responsibility. We as a community should be able to know why the decision to outsource and not to pursue other alternatives was made; how the decision-making process unfolded; who was included in that process; and when and how various constituencies were either consulted or notified about the decision. And whether this process to outsource will continue. 

Each of these points deserves careful consideration. But all of them point back to the College’s values: to be inclusive to all of its members, including students, faculty, and staff in all areas of the College’s operations, from administrative positions to hourly and part-time employees. 

At the very least, the decision to outsource is a move to exclude a set of staff that was previously part of this community – who shared in carrying out the mission and enjoyed the benefits of its values – to be employees of another entity entirely. The College has sought to allay this point of concern by reminding us that the College will evaluate the contract annually and consider its renewal every five years. However, this does not mitigate the stark fact that these affected staff will from here on out not be under the College’s direct decision-making umbrella – nor included in its community. And it should be clear that that is a decision that affects us all and makes us all worse off. 

Short Response Given to Concerns

Anonymous Contributing Writer




It’s great! Good company with great educational/training opportunities. 

As for this recent “concern” from The Wooster Voice and the staff/faculty committees:

Where was all your concern or Campus Dining/outsourcing in January when we first learned [of the outsourcing]? Took [you a] while to work yourselves up over something that is really not your business. [Do you] want a say in how and what goes down? Get a job, pay taxes, get involved. Don’t pretend [to have] all this concern after people have made decisions. Those people have the experience and take the responsibility for their decisions.

We Exist As One Community

Malachi Mungoshi

Viewpoints Editor




At times I felt completely lost, trying to ask these people to share their thoughts. It’s not like asking someone which cheese is their favorite, or whether they prefer Marvel or DC. It’s a very fresh scar, this issue of outsourcing. I’m ambivalent. On one hand, my positionality has helped me to better understand an issue that runs deeper than I had ever imagined, and than most students have imagined. On the other hand, ignorance is bliss. I spoke to several individuals – some were willing, others half-so, most not at all. I can say I understand how it feels not to know what the future holds. But this is a different existence in its entirety. Many of these staff members are dreading the future and living through that dread every single day. 

I think most of us as students view ourselves as experiencing Wooster outside of these issues. It’s a matter of ‘Lowry food is gross’, or, ‘the custodians have stopped cleaning our bathrooms. I pay 70K a year to go to this school…’ But we are just as human as these people are. And they exist in our community the same way we do. It’s ridiculous to assume that the dining and custodial staff, most of whom have been employed by the College for over a decade, would just forgo our needs as students. A common sentiment amongst those who I spoke to was ‘we care about the students. We want to help.’ And there is a very apparent hurt within this specific part of our community as a whole. Not only because of the outsourcing, but at the general lack of care from the student body especially. Scot Council has done virtually nothing. This is not meant to be a jab at the students within Scot Council, but it is the reality that they are, as their purpose on the College website states, “the collective voice of the student body…” I’ve been reflecting very heavily as well on the culture of discourse in our community. Everything that is discussed is done so because it is trending. True to the definition of a ‘topic of interest’, that is all that this sensitive matter is to many people. 

I felt the same, but it’s something very different when you hear these experiences straight from the source. I cannot help but feel this restlessness, this sense of foreboding and just… dread. I know that at this point, it is virtually too late to overturn any decision the College has made. Many staff members kept referring to the same exact situation in 2012. In their reflections, many of those that shared this information remembered this moment in time as equally hard, but they also recalled with much fondness just how many students were behind them, supporting them and standing with them. Now, 10 years later, history is repeating itself. But it is never too late to highlight the importance of this matter. The true weight of living that has come upon multiple members of our community, even beyond the walls of the College of Wooster. And now more than ever, support is valued and needed.

“Now I Am Going Through This All Over Again.”

Anonymous Contributing Writer




Hello, I would like to take the time to tell you a little bit about me. I am in custodial and have been since 2019. When I came to the college I had just left a job that I was at for some years. At the last place at which I had worked, they decided to outsource us. I was devastated. I started the year with weeks of vacation and with one “simple” decision it was gone. Healthcare was no longer provided to us. Long story short, I left to come to the College of Wooster because I was told what a wonderful place it would be and that it was like a family. It was great. I worked from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. [A close colleague] of mine worked 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the residential side. We both were so happy with our jobs. The benefits were unbelievable. Then Covid happened. And things changed. We had some people who were furloughed for the summer which was due to covid. And when the school year started we were told they could only return if they came back on 2nd shift. That made us lose quite a few workers – some who had been there many years. Then they brought in ABM, a cleaning company that was there to help us. 

No one could understand why they couldn’t have helped by filling in the second shift so we wouldn’t have lost so many good workers. I had a feeling this was opening the door for a future of working for a cleaning company. We were reassured that wasn’t the case. Now, [one of our managers] did tell us that he couldn’t say that it wouldn’t happen down the road to cover their butts. I had heard [another manager] was known for doing this in previous places he worked. It was a week after we came back from New years that they announced we were being outsourced. People were in complete shock and total devastation. This was a place we had loved to come to. And I will just say summer cleaning is not any of our favorite parts of the job; it’s hard, hot work and it is exhausting but the benefits we had made everything worth it. Now we are losing people because they don’t want to work for a cleaning company. And what once had a crew of dependable people will now be turning to a revolving door of people who won’t be as invested. This is sad but it is the reality. There are no loyal jobs anymore. This happened to me before, that’s why I came here and now I am going through this all over again. I love caring for the college students’ halls and classrooms but unfortunately I will be one of the ones leaving. Please keep my name anonymous if you would. With great respect, thank you for listening to me.

Staff Affected by Outsourcing Share Thoughts

“I’ve been here over 15 years. I feel like they don’t care about us anymore. They don’t care about the students. We’ve done all we can. It was their own doing – they got rid of the third shift, laid people off. The new company won’t tell us what our wages are gonna be. And the company only has to keep us for 6 months. It’s supposed to be a 5 year contract, but they only have to keep current workers for 6 months. So right around Christmas a lot of us are gonna be sent away. If they have different institutions, they can send you there. We now belong to them. Are they gonna make us wear uniforms? What about the gas for driving all over? There’s supposed to be five companies, but I feel like they’ve already picked out who’s gonna be doing it. It’s been going on for a long time. They’ve wanted to do it. And with Sarah [Bolton] leaving, the Board is using this as an opportunity to blame it on her, when they’ve been planning this all along. It really saddens me to see the dirt in halls and buildings build up. What about when they turnover for the summer camps and all? I don’t see how that’ll work. There’s not enough of us. What’s gonna happen when you guys come back in August? Are they gonna have a full crew?”

       – Custodian

“We’re not supposed to be talking to you. About anything. We’re told to come in, clean, and keep our mouths shut. But it’s hard for us to come in. We’re down to 17 people for two shifts. It’s scary. It’s just the unknown. We want to clean. We want to do it. But we just don’t have the time. We can’t do it. They don’t let us come in anymore. Everyday you come in and you don’t know what’s gonna happen. They don’t know the buildings like we do. They don’t give us the time we need to really clean them. This is just the beginning. Next what? The bookstore, grounds crew… it doesn’t stop here. And it’s sad because the faculty only started caring after the copy center. When it applies to them. We’re kinda just in the background, but everybody’s known since January.”

        – Custodian

“For me, I’m excited about the change. I think it’s gonna really open up bigger doors for us that work here. That way we don’t feel so stagnant in our position. I think that’s gonna be great. I think it’s gonna be tough delivery, but if they can do what they promised, it’s gonna be great for students and for us who work here. For international students, they [Creative Dining] said they would set something up where the students can teach us how to make their food and all. I don’t want to lose the connection with the students. I want the company to do what it says it will. And give us more opportunities to grow as a company.”

        – Dining Staff

“Here are my thoughts. If our upper management would have tried to resolve our issues I feel like this wouldn’t be an option. Also advocating more for the staff we feel would have helped. I felt like listening to the staff and involving us in the issues that we were facing would have helped. Being very open and transparent, which I feel they weren’t.”

         – Dining staff