Monday, October 8, 2007

Respecting Our Surroundings

The issue of respect has come up in a variety of contexts as I've been speaking with faculty, staff, and students around campus. I gained some additional perspective on this notion when Vice President Feola and I recently visited one evening with the third shift facilities staff. Respect for our buildings, grounds, classrooms and offices surfaced as a topic of conversation in our staff meeting. Although it was late for some of us (and early for others), we talked about the fact that the third shift facilities staff perhaps have the best insight as to how we treat our facilities. With support from Oneida County and the state, MVCC has invested more than $30 million in its buildings and grounds in the past ten years. We have substantial improvements scheduled for the quadrangle of the Utica Campus next spring and are in the process of considering the best way to approach upgrading many of our classrooms. However, the cleaning staff see a disturbing trend that could lead us to a sense of neglect when it comes to how we collectively treat our surroundings.

The College continues to strengthen its sense of community and affirming a mindset about how our beautiful campuses are treated has to be part of this effort. My conversation with the facilities staff included ideas about how to get people to take better care of things. If we increase our attention to detail when it comes to our facilities, we'll all increase our sense of personal responsibility for keeping things clean - we'll take care of the little spills we make in the office; we'll stop in the hallway or on the sidewalk to pick up the piece of paper; we'll properly dispose of cigarette butts; and if an accident occurs in a classroom, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Recognizing that students with busy schedules have needs, we allow food and drink in the classroom. If anything is spilled during class, particularly in rooms with carpet, the student or faculty member needs to notify facilities at break or immediately after class. If that doesn't happen, the next class immediately files in and grinds the mess deeper into the carpet.

As we build on the long history of excellence and standards at MVCC, we need to hold each other accountable and work on this one day, one event, one moment at a time. We need to collectively commit to respecting our surroundings and keeping our campuses clean, while we establish a new level of excellence for how we think of ourselves - we (students, faculty, staff, and community) are worth it. This commitment will serve us well as we continue to invest in upgrading our facilities and individually serve as good stewards of these incredible physical resources that help create the dynamic learning environment at MVCC.

You can't mandate a sense of pride in things, but I guess you can blog about it to learn more about what people think. I've shared some perspective that I've gained from the staff who do the majority of the cleaning on campus. I just know that the level of pride we take in our institution is reflected in how we take care of it. However, my three months here isn't long enough to know if we're getting better, worse, or staying the same, but it's important enough to me to post here and see what others think. Please share your perspective with me, whether it's the same or different, and any ideas you have on this issue at presblog@mvcc.edu.