It’s all hands on deck to inspect residence halls
Story by Mike Kilen
Photos by David Kadlubowski
GCU News Bureau
J.J. Sayson wasn’t wearing a mask and gloves to examine a sports injury.
The Grand Canyon University Associate Athletic Trainer was in Agave Apartments Monday waiting for a trash bin and a checklist. He was among 140 staff volunteers who helped Residence Life directors perform walk-throughs of vacated student residences, subbing for student resident advisors who left campus because of the pandemic.
In times like these, it’s all (gloved) hands on deck.
“It was an opportunity to do something different and help out the campus,” said Sayson, in his seventh year as athletic trainer, primarily for the softball team. “The softball team is all about service, so when this opportunity came up, I thought it would be good to volunteer.”
Teams that included volunteers from nearly every area of GCU, from Athletics to Welcome Programs, Spiritual Life to Communications, walked through the rooms Monday and Tuesday to gather items left there and check for cleanliness and damage.
“Usually, I’m still in the softball season and we’d be getting ready for the conference tournament,” Sayson said. “But if this is what God wants us to do – be in service with other people we don’t see as often – maybe that’s His way of getting us through tough times.”
Forty-six resident directors led teams divided into groups of four or five volunteers who sought to maintain social distance while wearing protective gear and efficiently examine 22 on-campus residences. The work was scheduled for four days but was completed in only two.
Dr. Tim Griffin, University Pastor and Dean of Students, was pushing a wheeled trash bin through the fourth floor of Agave Monday, a bit outside his normal duties.
“I’ve been here 10 years, and this is the first time I’ve done this,” he said. “I put a call out for volunteers in Student Affairs if they are willing and able to help out. I’m not going to ask others if I’m not willing to do it myself.
“The other part is I’m just getting cabin fever. I need to get out of the house.”
Resident director Chelsea Steele zoomed through the rooms with swift precision, opening every drawer, scanning the walls and floors and peeling taped flyers off the doors. Volunteers found a comforter that had been left behind, but more typically they came across ice cube trays, silverware and frozen foods.
“Some people left before spring break and couldn’t come back, so they chose to abandon some items,” she said.
The craziest thing she saw left behind one year was live pet fish. But on this shift the group of four saw relatively empty rooms.
“I thought we would fill up bag after bag,” Griffin said.
A few rolls of toilet paper here, a can of bean dip there, but overall it went smoothly through 27 rooms on one floor in an hour.
Griffin was joined by Steele and fellow resident directors Ally Reed and Hannah Wegner, who praised students for the rooms they saw on Monday morning.
Next, rooms will be sanitized and readied for the next occupants while resident directors work on missing keys and fines for extra cleaning or damage, said Carisa Kelso, resident director in Jerome Apartments.
“We recognize this year with the quickness of some leaving, and what the pandemic has brought for residents, that they were not able to clean as much as they have in the past. So there is more leniency on that than normal,” she said. “But from what we saw in rooms today, residents left their rooms clean and did well overall in removing their items.”
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.