The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday August 8th

In house dialogue

Chancellor Holden Thorp took an admirable and unexpected step in actively mediating recent housekeeper complaints. He confronted his first student protest with tact and progressive initiative.

Students and housekeepers rallied in the Pit on Thursday to protest a new system in which some housekeepers were made to take a day off during the week and work a weekend day without overtime pay.

For some this was a hardship because of difficult weekend bus transit increased childcare costs and difficulty maintaining part-time weekend jobs.

Protesters intended to deliver a letter of complaint to Carolyn Elfland associate vice chancellor for Campus Services but were pleasantly surprised to find Thorp waiting to speak with them.

We applaud this bold move in which Thorp emerged to meet group members personally assuring that current housekeepers would not be forced to work weekends. Instead he suggested that more housekeepers might have to be hired to accommodate the expansion of residence hall cleaning.

We commend Thorp for this surprising initiative in addressing the complaints of housekeepers.  He listened to demands and offered a solution to a problem that has been debated since the University decided to move to have residence halls cleaned seven days a week.

Thorp's willingness to address the problem directly is admirably unorthodox.  But we cannot be satisfied with just this one accomplishment and ignore the broader scope of the problem.

Disputes between housekeepers and administration are nothing new and one statement cannot settle the problem indefinitely.

This is a great first step in setting a new tone for the relationship with housekeepers. The mediation committee should continue to work with housekeepers to establish favorable working conditions.

We should not be complacent with just a temporary solution and hope that Chancellor Thorp will use this first step to initiate an ongoing direct dialogue between housekeepers and the University.

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