by Triana Arguedas
As students and staff were scrambling to travel home to avoid the storm plummeting through Jacksonville, was there really a doubt about whether there would be any damage to the campus? Did students think about the professors and faculty that also have families to go home to at the end of the day? Did anyone think about the employees that keep this campus running on a daily basis? Our campus was back to normal in a little over 24 hours after Hurricane Matthew passed Jacksonville. Students who couldn’t leave campus were housed in the Fountains for almost three days with the assistance and leadership of RA’s. But what about the faculty that work as groundskeepers? Landscapers? The other employees from physical facilities? These amazing people who work on this campus work endlessly to make sure our campus is as amazing as it was when the school first opened.
This semester, the Better Together Leadership team decided to dedicate our service project to the Physical Facilities employees. We put together over 200 goodie bags full of candies for the employees, attaching notes addressed from students and families thanking them for their service to the campus. It began as just something we decided to do as our team service project, but when the storm passed through the campus we decided to dedicate the goodie bags and cards for their hard work after the hurricane.
All hands were on deck to put together these bags. Student staff members bought candy and spread the word about the project through Market Days and the previous weekends Family Weekend. During this semester’s “Club Fest,” Better Together tabled and gained a large amount of student signatures on the big card and the goodie bag notes. The amount of students and families that participated was inspiring. These employees are always around campus and participate in campus events when they can (several staff members asked to participate in Club Fest and learn about clubs on campus!). These employees are the backbone of this campus and dedicate so much effort into making sure the campus runs smoothly.
As part of our mission, it’s important not to just validate people’s beliefs, it’s equally as important to value humans no matter how they contribute to the larger scheme of things, specifically the UNF campus. Our role on campus is a crucial one and provides a space to make sure people feel welcomed and comfortable on campus. This includes the employees that sometimes have to do the heavy lifting. Simply smiling at them or saying hello could potentially make a difference in their day, and I firmly believe that our team’s gift to the employees will make sure they feel appreciated and accounted for. These people have families to go home to at the end of the day the same way students do. We need to humanize the way we look at our campus through the lens of Interfaith and working together for a better campus.
Triana Arguedas is a senior graduating in December with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on Marine Systems and Conservation. She began working at the Interfaith Center in February of 2016 and has loved every moment of it.