Campus cleaners

t’s hard to miss the individuals, dressed in navy blue pants and red collared shirts, who roam the halls of the University of Detroit Mercy’s academic buildings and residence halls every day. 

Detroit native Howard Brookins has been doing it for 27 years. 

“I care about all of the students,” Brookins said. 

From the aftermath of basketball games to student-led organizations meetings, the custodians from Aramark provide prompt services to ensure the cleanliness and appearance of the McNichols campus. 

 “They do a pretty good job… I don’t see them being lazy or anything… they keep the campus clean,” said Jovan Holland, a communications student.

Director of housekeeping, Darrius Hudson, was born and raised in St. Louis. 

Employed with Aramark for 14 years, Hudson decided to move to Detroit to help improve the services provided by the custodial staff here at Detroit Mercy. 

“It was a good opportunity, good size campus…not too big, not too small,” Hudson said. 

The St. Louis native has served Detroit Mercy for little over a year now. 

Like any other job, the custodian workers must pass a background check, obtain a high school diploma or GED equivalent, drug-screening and undergo six hours of training before they work here at the university. 

Custodians must also be able to lift 50 lbs, understand basic reading and writing, understand chemical safety procedures and comply by W.E.S.T.

W.E.S.T. is an acronym meaning: welcome, engage, smile and say thank you while dealing with everyone. 

Hudson’s job isn’t simple; he handles paperwork, complaints and a staff of 50 employees. 

The housekeeping office is open during regular office hours from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Each day Hudson ensures that the custodial staff are clocked in and ready to go with their necessary supplies. 

From as early as 5 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m. the custodial staff are working to ensure that the dorms, libraries, classrooms, restrooms and office spaces are clean.

Hudson deals with few complaints regarding the custodial services. Most problems are minor, like low supplies of soap or tissues in bathrooms and full trashcans. 

Other than that, Hudson recalls that complaints are the least of his worries. 

Currently there are no benefits for custodian workers through the university.

However, Hudson alongside others, are trying to offer GED courses and intro college classes to the custodian workers. 

Though things are good for Brookins, he has a horrid memory within the Briggs building. 

A few years ago, when Brookins was new to the university he was assigned to clean a room that stunk out the entire third floor of Briggs. 

No one knew how the smell developed, however, Brookins was convinced it was a Halloween prank. 

The new custodian worker ignored the smell and relieved Briggs from the problem. 

“Briggs is my permanent building, but I worked in all of them,” said Brookins. 

Currently Brookins works from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

On average he cleans 14 classrooms and four bathrooms within eight hours.  

He appreciates his role on campus and is glad to serve through cleanliness. 

Brookins truly cares for the university and works hard every day to ensure that Detroit Mercy looks and smells good at all times.