Life Behind the Scenes

Facilities Department adjusts to recent changes.

Mary Bruggeman, Staff Writer

Facilities cleans Ashton 4th West bathroom every morning at 7AM. All bathrooms are cleaned at least twice a day to protect against COVID-19 infection. (Kyle Morrison)

There have been numerous shifts in routine over the past year for people working in facilities: custodians now wear protective aprons, more areas need to be cleaned, areas must be cleaned and disinfected frequently, and the hiring process is conducted entirely through a digital format.

Bethany Davis, Director of Building and Ground Services, explains that before the pandemic, students in Emerson and Arnett were responsible for cleaning their own bathrooms; now they are cleaned every week by the facilities team. Ashton and Hill are now cleaned twice a day whereas before they were only cleaned once per day.

Despite this increase in tasks, Davis says they have not hired any more people because there are less students living on campus to clean up after. The frequency of the cleaning may have increased, but the decrease in the population of students on campus has balanced this out.
About 70 students work for facilities at Seattle Pacific, according to Davis.

A shift in leadership has also been an unexpected change for some facilities workers.

Davis has just taken over leading the facilities department after the recent resignation of Matt English, the former Facilities Services Manager.

Though Mr. English has not responded to our requests for comment, Davis provided a brief explanation.

“Matt is an electrician by training, and he kept up his electrical license after moving into the Facilities Services Manager role. He has quite a bit of knowledge and expertise in that arena, and my understanding is that he will be returning to that field,” Davis commented.

“I hadn’t gotten anything from Facilities telling me that he was gone at all, so this was a huge surprise to me,” stated Junior Computer Science major, Ethan Meyer. He works for SPU as an RA, Student Ambassador, and for facilities, taking out the compost bins around campus.

“I did notice he wasn’t in the office, but I didn’t think much of it since COVID could easily mean someone is taking time to work from home. So far it hasn’t impacted my work at all since I mostly work alone and have gotten in a routine of where I should go each day. I haven’t interacted with Bethany Davis in any major capacity since, I have just kept doing my job,” stated Ethan.

Gabe Rojas, a second year accounting major who works for trash pickup, was also surprised by the change.

“I texted [Matt English] because it was snowing last week. I asked him what I should do and he said they would probably put me on recycling. I went in and Bethany Davis said, ‘Hey I don’t know if you heard but Matthew English left.’ So now she is my new supervisor,” said Rojas.

It has been over a week since English left.

“I just thought it was really funny, but [Davis] is really kind and really helpful,” Rojas added.

Both Meyer and Rojas have started their facilities jobs this academic year.

“I usually listen to podcasts on my way walking around campus and then I have a route that I go on for each day,” Meyer said.

“I think it’s a pretty good job. It’s very simple, which is nice. Really the only thing I need to keep track of is what day it is so I know which buildings to go to,” Meyer noted.

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he takes a different route around campus than on Tuesday and Thursday. The job takes about an hour and a half.

“There’s not much excitement in the day in the life of someone who does the compost route,” observed Meyer.

With his schoolwork and other jobs, he says he just wants something easy that he can get paid for.

Rojas also has multiple jobs, working as an SMC and at the front desk in addition to his facilities job.

“What I like about it is it gives me an opportunity to get outside. It allows me to enjoy the outside and enjoy nature. I just walk around and listen to music. It is calming in a sense. But definitely when it rains or is super windy it’s annoying because it’s hard to put the trash in the bag,” stated Rojas.

Rojas says he has found some unusual items on his route including a functioning large flashlight he found in the bushes, a baseball card still in good condition on the road, and a hawaii keychain. Rojas says finding these sorts of objects makes the job a little more interesting.

Rojas plans to continue working in trash pickup at least for the rest of this academic year. Like Meyer, Rojas sees the job as a way to save a little extra money.

“In facilities it is a team effort,” Davis stated.

Davis says that they have one open position on the custodial staff, the group of people responsible for cleaning the dorms and other gathering spaces. When the staff is short a person, everyone else must pick up the extra work.

Overall, she says she is proud of the way her team has handled the changes over the past year.