Custodians are unsung heroes of campus

Union worker Bronson Woodhouse cleans the sinks of the toilets in Volstorff ballroom.

Story: KARIM ABDELAZIM Reporter Photos & Video: PHU NGUYEN Photo Chief

Approximately 70 custodians, divided between day shifts and night shifts, work for the Facilities and Services Department and maintain more than 2.3 million square feet spread across 66 buildings. They operate behind the scenes to make sure everything is maintained and runs smoothly on campus. 

“We are here, we are the other half. We keep it clean, we keep it tidy and we keep it secure,” said Sally Rederth, custodial services supervisor II. “I think our biggest thing is building security, we keep things secure and maintained.”

The custodians on campus are divided across multiple departments including Housing, The Student Union and the Facilities and Services, which encompasses of the majority of the buildings on campus.

“It is critical to our school; it has been proven that when students visit a school it [how maintained campus is] affects their decision,” said Troy Syhre, the director of custodial services. “It has some weight in their decision to coming here.”

The custodians on campus have seen a lot of changes over the previous few years including an app called AIM, that is now required to be used by the staff. The app allows the custodians to clock in on it. It also offers a list of the duties and tasks that they must complete and the ability to check off each one as they progress through their shifts, which are usually at night time.

Custodians are divided into two groups. Each group has its own supervisor, “custodial services supervisor II.” Their duties vary night to night where they spend the night finishing off paperwork and associated duties or working out in the field performing quality checks and checking up with the custodians.

“I have good staff that I work with, my boss is awesome,” said Peggy Hofwalt, a facility worker in The Union. “I would never want to substitute him with anyone else because he works with me.”

The Facilities and Services also boasts a low turnover rate among their custodians. The national average of custodians quitting their jobs is approximately 60 percent, but this number is less than nine percent at SDSU. The custodian services usually operates on three to four vacancies every month. This, however, is usually dealt with as the department employs seven SDSU students who are sometimes assigned these vacancies or cover for other staff members when needed.

Custodians also check fire hydrants, work on snow removal and check on water softeners and smoking posts around campus in addition to their regular responsibilities of cleaning and maintaining buildings. They are also responsible for locking most of the campus buildings for the majority of the week. The University Police Department completes the job the remainder of the week.

The Facilities and Services custodians are an integral part of campus with most of their work gone unnoticed as they tend to operate mostly overnight. Some of their shifts begin at 10 p.m. and end around 6 a.m. Regardless of their work hours, they still maintain the building and it’s security.