The latest casualty of budget cuts? Trash cleanup


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Rebecca Crown Center. Northwestern is reducing its custodial services across the University. Custodial staff will stop disposing office trash and recycling daily and instead make a weekly visit.

Alan Perez, Campus Editor

Northwestern is reducing its custodial services across the University, the latest function administrators have pinched to fill a millions-dollar budget gap.

The move suggests cutbacks to University operations have yet to be finalized. The administration has said it expects the budget deficit to run through this academic year into the next.

Administrators have also said they hope the minimize the impact on NU’s education and research functions. In announcing the move earlier this week, Craig Johnson, the senior vice president for business and finance, repeated that message.

“The new model is designed to minimize the impact to the public and the student experience while still meeting the overall needs of each area,” he wrote in an email to school and department leaders.

But it remains unclear whether the change will lead to additional layoffs. Custodial staff are contracted workers not directly employed by Northwestern, though University spokesman Bob Rowley said administrators “work closely with our partner contractors on service issues.”

Under the revised process, custodial staff will stop disposing office trash and recycling daily and instead make a weekly visit, Johnson wrote in the email. Full cleanings will change to every 3-4 weeks instead of weekly. More public areas like restrooms will still receive daily service, while classrooms, kitchens and elevators will see less cleaning.

In response to the changes, Erin James Wills, a program coordinator in the The Chemistry of Life Processes Institute, told its members to reconsider their trash-related behavior.

“With offices not having daily waste removal, you probably will not want to throw away food and other degradable items in your office trash,” Wills wrote in an email obtained by The Daily.

The changes went into effect for most departments on Nov. 1, through Rowley said the changes will be managed across the University differently because of its “somewhat decentralized management structure.”

“Each unit will be approaching the process differently, tailoring approaches to their local realities, while trying to be flexible and dynamic in how they respond,” he said.

Johnson’s email to department leaders allowed for exceptions to the changes, though he said they would be funded by the department’s own budget.

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