CWU janitors sweeping the streets

AJ St. John, Staff Reporter

Custodial workers are part of the CWU crew. These workers dedicate their time to ensure that the campus remains clutter free as students carry on throughout their busy days. Although custodians mainly work indoors, the service workers at CWU also maintain the landscape at CWU, keeping the school clean inside and out. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated need for custodial workers will increase by 7% in the next decade. This particular job outlook is larger than the average. There is on the job training and no formal education requirements for people that pursue a career as a custodial worker. Also according to the bureau, many new jobs are expected in industries such as administrative and support services, educational services and healthcare. 

Don Sodergren is 75 years old. Sodergren worked for Boeing, but chose to work as something he finds more enjoyable. Sodergren enjoys the college atmosphere which is part of the reason why he worked after retiring from Boeing. He will be retiring from the CWU crew February 2020, although he did say he was going to use the rest of vacation hours and will be gone the month of January. Sodergren and his wife Jewel have been featured in many news articles. One of the articles they were featured in was the Yakima-Herald, which highlighted their 52-year-long marriage.  Sodergren also mentioned that his wife had been interviewed before for ghost stories. 

Dale Hubbard, custodial lead and former “DJ of the Year” has been working for CWU for 24 years. Hubbard graduated from CWU  in 1989 and majored in communications and music, with a master’s in public administration. He knows how to play the trumpet and guitar, but was mainly a vocal major. Hubbard also worked for The Observer at one point.  He prefers working in the first year residence halls because of the energy. It allows everyone to get to know everybody around campus, get to know the campus and build social skills. 

“Having a freshman dorm, is killer,” Hubbard said.

According to Hubbard, first years will meet people that they will know for the rest of their lives. Hubbard is from Ellensburg, and his mother is a former CWU employee. He enjoys being able to take any class for next to nothing. 

Hubbard can be seen greeting students as they enter their residence hall.  The activity and student interactions are part of what makes the job enjoyable for Hubbard. He describes himself as hyper so his work fits his personality. Hubbard mentioned that people will find custodial workers to be that way. He also mentions that interactions with students is something that he has enjoyed.

Custodian Kristin Hylinger, a former CWU student, enjoys working in this environment. As a student, she had built her own major to study multicultural humanities. Before she became a custodial workers, Hylinger spent her time dancing and was part of a troupe. Part of her reason for joining the facilities services is that she enjoys the medical and dental insurance that the school provides for the custodians. According to Hylinger, custodians are able to take care of the students because the school takes good care of their workers. Hylinger just asks students to throw their gum in the trash and not to write on the desks. Because of the type of work she does, according to Hylinger, the work can be arduous. She mentioned that the most difficult buildings for her to clean are the ones with the most foot traffic.

“I love working here, I appreciate my employers for taking care of me.” Hylinger said. “Just being in a university environment, folks tend to be more open minded.”

The appreciation of the students means a lot to Hylinger. Receiving thoughts and gratitude for the type of work she completes creates an environment she likes to work in. Putting a face to the custodial workers gives students a way to realize that there are people that take care of the buildings on campus, according to Hylinger. Hylinger’s dream commute is showing up to work, while the sun comes up, and starting her shift at 5 a.m. She enjoys seeing the sun come up and leaving work at 1:30 p.m. This way she still has daylight left by the end of her shift.