Opinion: BC Staff Members Are Not Your House Elves

Though our school talks a big talk about “Men and Women for Others,” Boston College students need to reconsider how “others” should be treated. BC is kept in pristine working order through the hard work and dedication of staff members, most of whom do not have the same privileged educational background as the students they serve. These people make our jobs as students incredibly easy. We do not have to clean our communal bathrooms because there are people who do that every day for us. We can eat in a dining hall any time between 6:30AM and midnight on weekdays because of the hard work of BC Dining’s staff. Despite all the effort that staff members put in, students constantly treat them unfairly and disrespectfully.

Last weekend after the Pitt football game, I overheard a freshman student — judging by his "Ever Rising to New Heights" Superfan shirt— complain loudly about how it costs so much money to go to BC, that it is therefore completely unacceptable for Lower to run out of ketchup at Late Night. The student could easily have respectfully asked an employee to restock the ketchup instead of complaining. Students with this mindset should realize that, while it is someone’s job to make sure the dining halls are well-stocked, it is not someone’s job to cater to each student’s every whim at every minute.

Photo Courtesy of Anthony Golden/ Gavel Media

Photo Courtesy of Anthony Golden/ Gavel Media

Sure, BC uses a large portion of tuition and fees paid by students to pay staff members to do their jobs, but that fact does not give students a license to make staff members’ jobs more difficult. At late night in particular, food is often left all over tables and even on the floors in Mac and Lower as some students feel it is not their job to clean up after themselves. It says a lot about a person who believes they are entitled to have someone clean up after them and deliberately makes that job more difficult.

It is completely disrespectful to treat people who work so hard for us this way, and this type of disrespect extends far beyond the dining halls. Dorms, particularly on weekend mornings, are usually a complete mess. Spilled remains of last night’s late night and the aftermath of typical college nights out litter hallways, left for staff members to clean up in the morning. Students who go to these levels to make staff members’ lives more difficult clearly are not “Men and Women for Others.”

In Harry Potter, there exists a class of sub-human creatures called “house elves,” whose only purpose in life is to serve their superiors — wizards. BC staff members are not house elves for students; they are real people who are dedicated to the school and the students, and they deserve to be appreciated as such. Dining staff, facilities workers, bus drivers and others work tirelessly to keep BC beautiful and various services convenient. Students should show their gratitude to these people constantly.

Appreciation can be shown both directly and indirectly. As often as you can, directly thank staff members for all they do for you. Offering staff members a “thank you” and a smile each time they do something for you is an easy way to show your appreciation for their work. Last year, on behalf of my floor, I left a Christmas card for the staff member who cleaned my floor bathroom. I thanked her for all she did for us and wished her a happy holiday season. This took very little of my time, and I hoped it would make her remember how important her work is. In the dining halls, make your appreciation known by thanking staff members and engaging

Photo Courtesy of Alex Krowiak/ Gavel Media

Photo Courtesy of Alex Krowiak/ Gavel Media

them in conversation. If you would like something restocked, find a staff member and ask politely if they could do that for you at their earliest convenience. Show your appreciation indirectly by making sure to clean up after yourself at meals and in residence hall common spaces — including hallways and bathrooms. If you weren’t taught how to clean up after yourself as a child, you’re going to have to learn in order to be a functioning adult, and there’s no time like the present.

Take some time to consider how privileged you are to have such dedicated staff members making your life easier while you receive a top-tier education, and start to treat these people with more respect. BC would be a better place if all staff members were consistently treated as the valued members of the BC community that they are.

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Miranda Richard