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Students appreciate hall staff

Nicole Toczauer | Friday, February 18, 2011

Senija Begic entered her position on the cleaning staff of Sorin College when she emigrated from Bosnia to America 11 years ago. Begic said she has developed strong relationships with residents of the dorm during her time on the job.

“I like my boys. They help me a lot and every day come to my break room and ask me questions,” she said. “When I clean, these guys keep it clean too. I am proud of them.”

At Notre Dame, there seems to be a special relationship between staff and students, with custodial doors often featuring thank you notes, banners and stickers.

In Sorin, the bond has led to Senija Appreciation Day, freshman Bobby Hess said.

“She has to deal with a lot of us, so last semester we signed up for half-hour periods and did jobs to help out,” he said. “We know how much work she puts in to keep this place clean.”

Working as cleaning staff for five dorms on campus, Shania Carter has established her own bonds with students.

“I do believe that there is a relationship between staff and students in the dorms,” she said. “I’ve had wonderful experiences with the girls. You really get to know about them, their parents, boyfriends and issues with classes.”

Working between dorms has allowed Carter to observe what factors contribute to these relationships.

“From my experience, it depends on what dorm you work in and a lot on the rector and the relationship that they have with the students,” Carter said. “I’ve seen that the rectors active with their students rub off on them and the staff.”

Carter said being outgoing is key to forming relationships with residents.

“Sometimes you guys are busy, back and forth to class, and if you just make the effort to say good morning that breaks the ice,” she said.

Senior Sorin resident Dennis Malloy said the cleaning staff deals with difficult issues because of the college environment. Despite this, he said the staff continues to be friendly and open to conversation.

“I love Senija because she’s always here for us. For four years, I’ve never heard her once complain and she’s always very happy to see us — even weekend mornings, even days she had to come through the snow to get here,” Malloy said. “And she’s doing it every day.”

Begic said during the seven years she has worked in Sorin, the men have come to respect her like a mother.

“I teach them a lot and they teach me a lot,” she said. Lacing her fingers together above her heart, she continued, “Here, my heart is so big. I feel at home.”

Begic said she often hears from men who have graduated. Similarly, Carter said she receives cards from some of the women she knew as students.

“After graduation, they write to let me know how they’re doing. It really means a lot to me,” Carter said. “Working in a place where you know these people makes a huge difference.”