Residential Services to ensure maintenance staff cleans dorms on weekends

According to their contracts, cleaning crews are supposed to work on the weekends. However, they may have been neglecting North Campus dorms.

Alissa Zhu/The Daily Northwestern

According to their contracts, cleaning crews are supposed to work on the weekends. However, they may have been neglecting North Campus dorms.

Ally Mutnick, Assistant Campus Editor

Plans are now in the works to add full weekend cleaning services to North Campus dorms — something Residential Services says should have been happening all along.

The Millard Group, a Chicago-area commercial maintenance group hired to clean North Campus, originally signed a contract to clean seven days a week, said Paul Riel, executive director of Residential Services.

“We are proactively working with them to force the contract for them to meet the expectations we have for them to clean on the weekends,” he said.

The company is contracted to clean only the dorms on North Campus. Northwestern employees clean the South Campus buildings.

Riel said he has a meeting early next week with the senior management of the company to coordinate weekend cleaning. The management told Riel they do weekend cleaning, but Riel said it is a “skeleton crew” that does only minor cleaning.

Alex Van Atta, Associated Student Government vice president for student life, said he received many complaints from students about the lack of cleaning service on the weekend and approached Riel about finding a solution.

“That’s one of the things students get really disgusted about,” Van Atta said. “You have Friday and Saturday night, and no one is cleaning. Things get kind of messy.”

Weinberg freshman Roy Wu said his Community Assistant in Elder Hall told the residents to keep the floor clean because there is no cleaning staff on duty on the weekends.

Wu said it’s not always a big deal, but the lounge can get dirty. He also recalled one time when a resident vomited in the bathroom after the cleaning staff had left on Friday.

“It smelled like puke the entire weekend,” he said. “It was right next to the shower.”

Bryan Huebner, a Weinberg freshman who lives in the Bobb Hall basement, said the lack of weekend cleaning is definitely noticeable. He also recalled vomit and food crumbs in the common areas and bathroom.

“You can tell by Sunday the bathrooms seem a little gross,” he said.

Students living in some dorms on South Campus also said they had not seen cleaning crews on the weekend.

“The bathrooms are disgusting,” said Emily Fagan, a Bienen sophomore who lives in Allison Hall. “It gets disgusting after one day of not being cleaned, but after two and a half days it gets really bad.”

Fagan lived in Public Affairs Residential College last year and said she never saw any cleaning crews. She noted Allison, unlike PARC, is not suite-style living, so bathrooms there are shared by more people, which makes keeping them clean more difficult than in smaller dorms.

Riel said he was unaware of any weekend cleaning problems on South Campus, but he is willing to look into it.

Because he is in his first year at NU, Riel said he is not sure why the University uses two different cleaning services, but he guessed it was less expensive to have some staff be full-time and some contracted.

Ahead of the meeting next week, Riel said he is sure he can reach an agreement with the Millard Group, calling them a “reputable” organization. He said he is committed to maintaining a high standard in every dorm.

“The same students are there on Thursday that are there on Saturday, so we need to clean at the same level,” he said.