Staff Issue: Letter from the Editor

Danny Jin

Today’s edition explores issues that staff face at the College and details facets of staff members’ lives both at and outside the College. The staff issue, like all other issues, investigates problems that affect members of the College community. We chose to publish a staff issue due to the relative lack of attention that has been devoted to staff concerns in campus conversations. As a student newspaper, we have the capacity to spur conversations about staff concerns by making readers aware of these concerns through our reporting.

This issue does not claim to encompass all stories relevant to staff at the College; such a pursuit would be impossible. We hope that writing about the concerns that have been raised to us will contribute to and help sustain ongoing conversations about equity and inclusion for staff at the College and that more staff members will become comfortable voicing their concerns.

Custodial workers describe a culture of fear and alienation in the workplace that makes them feel unvalued by management. Custodians who spoke to the Record expressed fear of retribution for speaking to the newspaper, including fear of losing their jobs.

While the Record does not typically publish anonymous quotes, we granted anonymity to five current or former Facilities employees, a support staff member and a staff member in an administrative department out of a desire to elevate these voices and to publicize their opinions without putting individuals in positions where they felt uncomfortable or at risk. These workers said that traditional mechanisms, such as speaking directly to supervisors and reporting problems to Human Resources, failed to address their concerns. Conversations between Record reporters and the Williams Staff Committee suggest that staff in other departments share similar concerns but that they have been reluctant to present their opinions publicly. One Dining employee, for example, spoke to the Record but asked not to be quoted.

Faculty members who have spoken to staff about staff concerns in the workplace have advocated for their colleagues, such during the 2018 Committee on Priorities and Resources forum. Students, as well as faculty, can use positions of safety to endorse staff interests. In order for the College to better incorporate staff in its mission, however, it must develop formal and functional mechanisms for staff advocacy, a need articulated in our editorial.

The strategic planning process and its involvement of staff has inspired hope for improvement, some say. These sentiments have been encouraging, and we hope that this progress translates to prolonged campus discussions of staff concerns. We would like for our coverage to devote increased attention to challenges that staff face, and we hope that this issue starts to work toward that goal.

Danny Jin,