To all of UT’s staff: Thank you.

Elena Pacheco

It’s nice to have a clean campus and clean classrooms. It’s nice to see yesterday’s broken water fountain working just fine today. It’s nice to have food ready in the dining halls and clean tables to eat on. It’s nice to see old buildings renovated into more comfortable buildings. These details that seem ordinary on our campus are actually the end result of dedicated individuals working behind the scenes to make sure we have everything we need.

We go out of our way to talk to intimidating professors, deans, teaching assistants and undoubtedly treat them with the utmost respect. However, sometimes we forget that they are not the only people that make up UT staff. Custodians, cafeteria workers, construction workers, maintenance — they’re all just as important to having a successfully functioning campus.

During finals week last semester at the Perry-Castañeda Library, I remember seeing two janitors cleaning up a study room with frustration. Whoever had been in that study room had somehow stuck a pizza on the glass window of the room. The audacity and disrespect of whoever did that is truly disappointing.

We are truly privileged in our assurance that the mess in the PCL that nobody wants to deal with will be gone later that day.

Custodial staff member Candelaria Ruiz told me about her experience working at UT. She has worked on campus for two years and typically cleans around the PCL. She said she often finds a mess not only in the restrooms but in the study rooms and around the study tables. She told me she has found everything from empty candy wrappers and food packaging to condoms.

I was embarrassed to hear that. We spend a lot of time voicing our concerns about what we don’t like, yet we often overlook our own negative actions that others have to deal with without even complaining.

It is important to be mindful of our actions and to remember that we shouldn’t take our comfort for granted. This campus isn’t just ours — it belongs to everyone who has helped shape it.

Ruiz was kind enough to share some things about her life with me. She is a mother of two and is from Mexico City. Outside of work, she enjoys arts and crafts, ceramics and making home decor. She also told me her favorite type of food is Mexican “sin duda.” 

I also had the pleasure of conversing with another member of the UT staff in a very different yet crucial occupation. Oscar, a member of the safety sector of construction, is currently a part of the team that is renovating Welch Hall. He told me he enjoys working at UT, and he is pleased with the strong adherence to safety among the construction workers. He also told me that he enjoys going home with the satisfaction of having worked hard.

Outside of work, Oscar loves spending time with his family and likes to enjoy a good burger or some tacos.

When the renovations of Welch are finished, we shouldn’t just view it as another University asset, but rather we should remember who humbly put their time and effort into it.

I urge you to be mindful and appreciative of things like these that we tend to take for granted. Pick up after yourself. Say thank you. Strike up a conversation with the person who is serving your food. A simple gesture can go a long way.

Pacheco is an English sophomore from Edinburg.