C is for cleaning crew: BSA takes pride in students, work

Monday through Friday, Susan Wilkerson, 49, cleans Keen Hall. “I love my job; the students are my favorite part,”  Wilkerson said. “Without them, I’ve got to talk to and entertain myself.”

Ella Burnside

One of the few who cares for the many students living in Keen Hall, Susan Wilkerson could easily be described as a ray of light.

From the kind and motherly way she referred to the young man at the front desk as her “special one,” to the way she called out a warning to the boys in the hall saying that the bathroom floor was still wet and they should be careful, it is obvious that Wilkerson takes pride in her daily interactions with students.

She is a building services attendant (BSA) on WKU’s campus and has been serving the students in the residence halls for nearly five years.

Wilkerson received her position on campus because of her experience in both residential and corporate cleaning, skills that make her qualified for the task of maintaining the homes of hundreds of students each day.  

“My day starts at 7 a.m. and goes to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday,” she said. “I am responsible for the lobby and the second and third floors.”

The responsibilities of cleaning the residence halls each day are split between the BSAs assigned to each building. BSAs clean the restrooms, kitchens and hallways of each floor.

When asked about his day-to-day job as compared to that of the cleaning staff, Brian Kuster,  Director of Housing and Residence Life said, “Students won’t notice if I’m not at work, but students notice right away if the BSAs aren’t there.”

Kuster said a lot of education takes place inside the dorms.

“My job is more fulfilling when I see students succeed,” he said. “You get a sense of pride in that this student was successful and you got to play a little part in that.”

Wilkerson feels a strong connection with the students in her hall. She said the building isn’t the same when they’re gone in the summer.

“The students do make the job a whole lot better,” she said. “I like messing with them. If they weren’t here, we wouldn’t have a job. Their good attitudes and smiles make our days easier.”

Ja’sha Reed, a resident assistant in Bemis Lawrence Hall, feels strongly about respecting the cleaning staff. The Louisville junior described them as a surrogate family to her residents.

“You should treat them as if they are your own parents,” Reed said. “Would you want your parents’ co-workers or staff making your parents’ life more difficult?”

Reed said it’s important to recognize how much work goes into maintaining the living environment students have on campus.

“It says a lot about your character if you can appreciate the people who make your residence hall comfortable,” she said.