Over the past few months, there have been countless calls to thank essential workers for all the hours they have put in during the pandemic. When most Furman students think of essential workers, they probably imagine grocery store employees or healthcare providers. However, I think of my dad, Sam Stojkovski. He is a part of Furman’s very own blue-collared band of frontline workers that have gone almost entirely unnoticed this semester: our Facilities Services team.
When the initial wave of COVID-19 hit, students, professors and office staff were sent packing to avoid the risks of spreading the virus on campus. The campus was a veritable wasteland. The usual traffic in and out of the academic buildings was gone, visitors from the public were forbidden from entering, and the lively chatter in the dining hall fell silent.
One of the only signs of life on campus came from a group of buildings between Duncan Chapel Road and the Furman lake, separated from the rest of campus by a chain link fence. While the rest of us were at home, the men and women of Facilities came into work the same as they would any other day. The ability to work from home was outside the realm of possibility for them – a carpenter can’t work with wood over Zoom. So, from the beginning of the pandemic until now, with the exception of some temporary furloughs in the summer, Facilities has been working the same as they always have to ensure an easy and effective return to campus.
Though they have not asked for praise, Furman’s Facilities workers are deserving of our gratitude now more than ever. Facilities staff typically go largely unrecognized, and unfortunately it seems this year is no different.
While it is understandable that most students do not know what goes on with Facilities, it is disappointing, and a failure on the part of our community, that they have not received the proper acknowledgement for the work they have done to allow us to return.
The easiest and most effective way to do this would be for the administration to simply send an email recognizing them for everything they have done to allow this semester to go as smoothly as it has. While planning for our return was essential – and we should be thankful to those who were in charge of that – those plans would be nothing more than a pipe dream if it weren’t for the workers on the ground executing those plans.
An acknowledgement thanking our Facilities staff in detail for everything they have done for us, similar to the one addressed to students last week, could also go a long way to changing the attitudes of students. As of right now, many students simply forget that the Facilities staff is here; the only reminder of their existence for most of us is the presence of their vehicles and the occasional encounter we have with our purple-shirted compatriots. If students knew what they have done and and continue to do for us daily, then they might become more aware of the staff’s presence and their attitude towards them might start to change for the better.
Of course, nothing is stopping those that are reading this from starting the trend. You would be amazed at how much a simple thank you can do.