Students Experience College Nightlife with Environmental Services

Few students are aware that their late-night homework sessions occur simultaneously with the nightly work of another group on campus. Coming to work at midnight and leaving at 8:30 am, the Environmental Services (EVS) night shift staff work to keep certain areas of the Swarthmore College campus clean and functioning.Learning for Life (L4L), a voluntary student-run mutual learning program comprised of student-staff-faculty partnerships, gave students the opportunity to experience Swarthmore College nightlife from a different perspective. On Tuesday night, students met and worked with EVS night staff at L4L’s annual “What Makes the School Run?” event.“Surprisingly big things get done at night,” explained L4L coordinator Hilary Hamilton ’12. The purpose of the event was to not only appreciate the work of the night staff, but also to comprehend that “Swarthmore can be a place where people get hidden,” according to Hamilton. “What Makes the School Run?” is about “bringing those people out of the shadows, and recognizing what they do,” she explained.There are six to 10 staff on the night shift, and each one was paired to two or three students. As a group, they performed the nightly duties of their respective EVS staff member, going to Beardsley, the Science Center, and various sections of Parrish Hall.

A group of about 15 students attended, ranging from people who for the first time were attending a L4L event, to those who had been partnered with a Swarthmore staff member by L4L for multiple years. This event was primarily intended for “people who don’t feel that can commit to consistent partnership,” Hamilton said, so that they can still interact with the “people who sadly are often overlooked on campus.”

Advertisements for the event were placed in the Reserved Students’ Digest and an event was made on Facebook after approval from the night shift coordinator, Don Bankston. Hilary described that L4L tried to organize the event “in the middle of the week,” a quieter period free from EVS cleaning up of campus party spaces after the weekend.

“A lot happens to make our school run the way it does,” Hilary explained, and the EVS event was intended to give students “ideas of what you can be doing to make their job easier.” Ali Roseberry-Polier ’14 felt that this was a successful outcome of the event. For her, attending the event was “a really good way to realize how much work they do to make this school operate.”

“I wanted to do a different aspect of L4L,” said Roseberry-Polier, who has been partnered with a Sharples kitchen staff member since last semester.

The group organizing the event, L4L, strives to expand the concept of education beyond “students and faculty,” bringing education to “the whole community.” Through the L4L program, staff have “better access to the radio booth, gym, and things like that,” explained Hamilton.

“Once you’ve gone in with a student few times, it’s your space too.”

Verona, who has been a night shift staff member for six years, listed the skills she has learned through L4L partnerships. “I didn’t know much about the community,” but then after becoming part of L4L, “I learned banking, how to use a computer,” and even “a little Spanish.”

Students have the freedom to choose the skills they convey to their partners, ranging from practical skills, to fitness tips, to artistic endeavors. Verona’s last partner taught her how to make pottery, which she now enjoys, and has made “a little pot” as part of her own project. Though L4L “started out more literacy-focused,” explained Hamiton, it has now expanded to become “a community builder on campus.”

As such, L4L aims to organize two campus-wide events a year. The event prior was a film screening of “Philosopher Kings,” focusing on college janitorial staff, for both staff as well as the general Swarthmore community, aided by Barry Schwartz’s involvement. L4L has increasingly become more popular, currently there are 25 to 30 partnerships, “some with more than two people in it,” and with such “really high turnouts for partnerships” L4L is “continuing to grow,” according to Hamilton.

“It’d be really cool if there was an event where students could see what goes on in the kitchen, in Sharples,” said Roseberry-Polier, “I’d love it if there were events like this more often.”


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