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The Daily Tar Heel

Employee Forum discusses name changes and charity work

Michele Gretch Carter, newly appointed manager of the Student Stores, discusses her role on campus at an Employee Forum meeting at the Stone Center.
Michele Gretch Carter, newly appointed manager of the Student Stores, discusses her role on campus at an Employee Forum meeting at the Stone Center.

What happened?

Members of the forum debated whether or not it was necessary to change the wording used when talking about housekeepers employed by the University. They decided not to pursue any policy change in regards to the terminology. They also heard an announcement about the amount of money raised by the University’s charity organizations.

Who spoke?

The forum focused on the use of the term “housekeeping” to describe the janitorial division of the University.

Some members of the forum raised the issue that the term might be inherently negative and derogatory toward the employees of the department. Head of housekeeping Herb Richmond defended the use of the term to describe his workers. He said he believes it gives his staff a sense of purpose, if not pride.

“There’s doctors, administrators, all positions have a title,” he said, “Whatever the name is, I’m the one you call when the restroom’s broken. I’m the one you call when someone needs to come and clean the toilet. All the nasty, disgusting stuff I do, I’m proud of what I do and I tell people I’m not the director, I’m a housekeeper.”

Ricky Roach, a representative from Energy Services, agreed with Richmond.

“I don’t know why in the last 20 years it seems like people have decided that changing the name of a condition somehow changes the condition itself,” he said. “There’s no shame in being called a housekeeper. It’s a job”.

The issue of forthcoming nighttime parking permits was also briefly mentioned in the meeting. Richmond admitted that the program has been a tough sale to his staff and he worries that staff will end up putting themselves in danger to avoid fees.

“It’s going to be really hard to convince 200 people to pay for parking when there’s 100 empty spaces and there’s five that they’re parking in,” he said.

Also during the meeting, Malee Kirk, programs and events coordinator, gave a presentation on the University’s official charity network, Carolina Cares, Carolina Shares.

“Since 1985, the state of North Carolina has raised over 100 million for charities and last year we had close to 1000 charities approved for the campaign,” she said.

She said the University’s charitable organization has raised over $3 million.

Why is this important?

Employee Forum members decided not to pursue policy seeking a change in the wording used when referring to housekeeping staff. Richmond said the employees in the housekeeping department take pride in their position.

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