Do the daily activities of campus workers deserve a prize? A group of student leaders from the Students’ Association (SA) Government say yes.
Deputy Chair of the Campus Services Committee Alexandria Brown, a junior who is also a member of the Campus Times Editorial Board, says she saw a need for recognition early on in her time at UR.
“When I first came to this school, I was very attuned to the fact that there are a lot of invisible presences,” Brown said. “I get up at five in the morning and there’d be a woman cleaning, up and ready at that time. Some people have dedicated 15, 18 years of their lives to doing these things, and I don’t see a reason why they can’t be recognized with equal emphasis as we do people who […] build buildings on our campus or people who have donated money.”
Brown, along with sophomore senator Nick Foti and freshman senator Kamel Awayda, has been drafting the UR A Star Award, which recognizes Facilities and Services, Dining Services, and Transportation and Parking Management staff members.
The award is part of Brown’s larger UR Stars in Service Campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the work done by UR staff members. The Stars in Service Campaign also will involve a website featuring profiles of staff members and an annual event featuring the talents of these staff members. In addition to Brown, Foti, and Awayda, senior Anis Kallel, the D’Lions, and the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence are involved in the campaign.
The award consists of several parts: the first is an open nomination period during which UR students will have the opportunity to submit the names of the staff members they feel are deserving of the award. According to the campaign’s planning document, staff members will only be eligible if they work in facilities, dining services, or transportation, and have not received the award within the preceding three years.
After nominations close, a voting form containing the names of all nominees, listed in order of number of nominations received, will be sent out. The winning staff member will receive a $150 gift card and their name on a plaque.
Awayda explained that there is currently no way for the university community to recognize the impact made by dining, facilities, and transportation staff.
“It recognizes integral members of our community here at the UofR who would otherwise receive no recognition,” Awayda said. “Everyday […] I experience the kindness, warmth, and genuine interest that these workers express towards us. I feel that the least that we could do is to identity the workers who have made a positive impact on the student body.”
The process to create the award has not been without its challenges. Foti explained that he felt that some momentum was lost due to spring break. Brown said that this was the first time she had the experience of leading an initiative. She noted, however, that she expects the campaign to be successful due to the efforts of those involved.
While the first award is expected to be given next spring, the remainder of the campaign will be implemented this spring. Brown explained that only one award will be given in its first year, but that the number of people recognized may grow beyond that.
Foti was optimistic about the future of the award.
“I’m hoping that this award will be a staple in campus culture,” Foti said. “If we can make that step and at least give one, two, or three awards out per year, then I think we’ve made a better step towards recognizing the positive impacts and impacts that they have on us day to day.”