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Respect underappreciated staff at Stanford

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Though Stanford has presented its fair share of challenges in the seven weeks I’ve been here, there’s quite a bit I’ve already begun to take for granted. Despite my egregious lack of a functional sleep schedule and failed attempts to dodge the insidious frosh plague, many aspects of my life have become much easier — I don’t have to clean my own bathroom, make my own food or wash my own dishes, just to name a few examples. As we’re busy navigating midterms and rapidly approaching essay deadlines, all while trying to juggle club meetings and some semblance of a social life, it’s easy to overlook the people who handle the basic day-to-day maintenance we once had to deal with ourselves.

During one of my first house meetings of the year, my RAs made a Kahoot to quiz us on our dorm rules and expectations. When they asked for the names of the three employees who clean our halls and bathrooms, everyone was stumped — including myself. I felt incredibly guilty for not having taken the time to ask the most base-level introductory question to any one of them. These people dedicate innumerable hours to preserving the space I live in, and I couldn’t even identify them by name. 

It’s easy to forget at times, but the people who clean our dorms and make sure we’re fed are just as integral to our success at Stanford as any professor, advisor or leader on campus. A university without food, clean dishes or paper towels could not function at the most rudimentary level. Each and every employee across the board is indispensable and deserving of respect.

This isn’t to say that we all need to develop a personal relationship with every employee on campus. But I think we all need to be cognizant of the atmosphere of entitlement we breed when we display no regard for the staff behind the scenes. It becomes easy to simply walk in and out of the dining hall without saying one word to the person bussing your plate or swiping your meal card. We get upset when the line for steak skewers is too long, or when we have to scrape the food off of our dishes ourselves. We’re all eager to race from one place to the next, to get back to our problem sets and essays and midnight deadlines. But it’s time we slow down and take time to appreciate the people who enable us to live on campus and receive an education at all. 

I urge us all to take just a couple of seconds out of our day to say hello or shoot a quick thank-you to the staff who don’t hear it nearly as much as they deserve. It’s the least we can do — after all, we wouldn’t be here without them. 

Contact Eden Gibson at eden3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.