There are two separate sides to this campus. There is the stage that only the students see, and there is the angle that only the staff can see. From that angle, this place is where they make a living. They spend their time here for their family. This is the case anywhere; there is the backstage work and the displayed beauty. But the Fairfield way has made our environment unique.

What’s shared at Fairfield between the front and the back is the sense of family. Which professors send their children here? Which students followed their alumni family members here? Which staff members find themselves working among nieces or nephews? Any of us, in a second, can think of faculty, staff and students who share blood. The workplace, however, with those who serve to maintain our neat front is secretly a mess. It has been for over a year.

The contract negotiations underway between the maintenance department and administrators is making a very old and important part of the campus community feel alienated. Their low pay was a bullet to bite before, but now we can see that this invested population is losing options.

How could a noose be put on a part of our campus family while external contractors are invited to take their air? Random companies from outside this bubble, that has been so thoughtfully maintained and developed, do not know us like our own do. Those who wear the label “Fairfield University” on their uniform see this place as more than the work backstage.

They breathe life into campus through mentoring in residential colleges and raising funds for graduating seniors. They are familiar faces. They know the school history better than most. They have watched and helped Fairfield grow.

Years ago, when custodians faced poor working conditions, Fairfield students in protest marched up to Bellarmine Hall and sat in the president’s office. A deal was worked out shortly after. We believe that the maintenance staff deserves that kind of recognition from both the students and those in the administration.

Stop choking out their ability to work overtime. Stop paying them below the state average when our tuition is so high. This is the school that pays our many vice presidents large amounts to keep up with other schools doing the same. Why can’t Fairfield stay competitive for the many workers down the chain as well? Our family members deserve a fighting chance.

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