As far as bathrooms go, the one in my Trumbull entryway is concerningly subpar. Once my suitemate tried to flush the toilet, and instead it spewed water all over her pants. Later, the toilet flood got so bad that it leaked into the stairwell, leading a couple of us to put in a request for the bathroom to be fixed. The next day, we awoke to the exact same puddle and, incomprehensibly, brand new sink faucets. Fearful of our bathroom and bewildered by the system, we grumbled about Yale facilities for a couple of days and subjected ourselves to the bathroom next door — a mere fifteen steps to the entrance on the other side of our suite.
Needless to say, the inconveniences of our bathroom debacles — as gross as they may sound — have had relatively little effect on our quality of life at Yale. So what if our shower is a little lukewarm sometimes? So what if the window latch has been missing for a year? Any one of these small bothers adds to the pile of urgent campuswide issues that the facilities team juggles each week. At the end of the day, it was the Trumbull facilities workers — the wonderful, dedicated human beings who already spend each week cleaning every corner of the building and managing our trash output — who took care of our recurring bathroom flood. It is thanks to them that the puddle magically receded every afternoon, leaving the bathroom sparkling clean and dry again.
Much like retail workers on Black Friday, not enough admiration can be felt for those who have to pick up after ungrateful and entitled troves of Yalies. One would think that our oh-so-refined intellectual discourse would teach us a bit about manners and respect. But have you seen our streets and courtyards after Halloween? Yale-Harvard? Spring fling? Have you smelled the vomit and rotten food left behind by us and our classmates on any given day? If we’re not the ones picking up after ourselves, who do you think has to do it?
To say that Yale facilities staff, and Yale dining staff, for that matter, are underappreciated — regardless of any horror stories we may have heard from our friends about unfulfilled facilities requests and lackluster fixups — is an understatement that warrants a moment of pause. After all, Yale may be our home for four years, but it is certainly not our house, and the facilities workers are not our forgiving, sworn-to-dote-upon-you-for-life family members. The collective mess that we leave in the laundry room takes hours for someone else to clean up. The seemingly harmless Starbucks cup left on the courtyard bench is one of dozens that staff have to pick up in a single week. And what about all of the red solo cups and beer bottles, all of the cigarettes and plastic bags and takeout containers, the messes made and abandoned in a drunken haze? “Zeta was lit last night” is no excuse. Why should anyone forget basic human decency for the sake of having a good time? Consider it a part of the qualifications of being a proficient human being — let alone Yale student or party-goer: Not leaving a trail of destruction or litter everywhere you go.
Here at Yale, we are pampered beyond belief, and it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more considerate toward the people who spend so much time making this place as clean and comfortable as a home. How can we clean up our act? Well, actions speak louder than words. Maybe we can start by transporting stray chai lattes to the trash and picking up red solo cups after our parties — and maybe even other classmates’ parties. We should do this and more, not only for Yale staff’s sake, but for the sake of growing up and taking responsibility for our spaces and privileges. It’s the least we can do, beyond sharing our gratitude.
So thank you, facilities and staff, for making Yale the beautiful place that it is. We don’t appreciate you enough.
Catherine Yang is a junior in Trumbull College. Her column runs monthly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .