In this ongoing series on the work done to maintain and improve the campus, seven members of UMF’s Facilities Management team show what it takes to get Dakin Hall ready for August 31 — new student move-in day.

Story and photos by Marc Glass, August 2019

For the team of seven UMF custodians cleaning Dakin Hall, the arrival of Monday, Aug. 5, means one thing: T-minus 26 days to new student move-in day.

For custodian Tim Burnell, it also means 26 days until his son will take up residence in Dakin and begin his UMF adventure as a member of the Class of 2023.

UMF custodian Tim Burnell vacuums a Dakin Hall double in preparation for 2019 move-in day.

There’s no place dust and detritus can hide from Facilities Management custodian and new UMF parent Tim Burnell P’23.

“Move-in day, when the freshmen arrive, is the best day of the year,” says Burnell, whose wife, Brenda (formerly St. Laurent) is a 1984 alumna. “When parents get a chance to meet the custodial staff, they know there’s somebody there keeping an eye on everything and taking care of the building their child will be living in.”

Joining Burnell in the vacuum brigade is Mitch Adams, who, one room over, is giving the walls, floor, vents, sills, closets, and mattresses a thorough dust-busting. Adams’ regular beats include the Fusion Center, 101 South Street, and the Creative Writing House (115 South Street). But with Dakin’s most recent residents, Upward Bound students, having just decamped for home, it’s all hands on deck in the 148-bed hall.

UMF custodian Mitch Adams cleans a windowsill in a Dakin Hall single.

Facilities Management custodian Mitch Adams takes a vacuum to a windowsill in a Dakin Hall single.

Two doors down, summer employee Spencer Wodatch ’20, a senior elementary education major from Brunswick, is tag-teaming a room with Fawn Small, who joined UMF as a custodian in May. While they meticulously wipe down the furniture and surfaces with spray cleaner and rags, Wodatch explains why working with Facilities Management in the summer is “a great gig.”

Fawn Small applies furniture wax to a chair in a Dakin double.

Fawn Small, who has been with Facilities Management for all of three months, polishes a desk and chair in this Dakin Hall double. Once finished with the residence hall, the team will clean the MasterChill refrigerators and microwaves (seen in the background) in each room.

“Finding full-time work just for the three months of summer isn’t easy,” Wodatch says. “This is a nice opportunity to earn some money before student teaching next year. Plus, it’s given me an opportunity to see what goes into maintaining the campus. I have a lot of respect for the work the year-round staff do day in and day out.”

Spencer Wodatch wipes down the wainscotting.

Senior elementary education major Spencer Wodatch ’20 of Brunswick wipes down the wainscoting in this Dakin Hall room. The work, he says, is “a great gig” for the summer.

Up one flight, Wodatch’s classmate Levi Sterling ’20 of Auburn is likewise wiping down mirrors, furniture, and surfaces. Sterling says the summer work is much like the campus job he holds down during the academic year while pursuing a degree in psychology with a concentration in counseling: part-time custodian in nearby Lockwood Hall.

“I like the hours and scheduling flexibility of working with Facilities Management,” says Sterling. “I can give them my class schedule, and they arrange hours for me when I’m available. I definitely prefer it to restaurant work.”

Levi Sterling cleans a Dakin Hall mirror.

There’s clean and then there’s Sterling clean. This mirror is the latter.

Down the hall, Steve Decker and Dan Pease are giving the floors what Decker calls a “deep scrub.” The cleaning process, involving water and a mild solvent, takes up the top layer of wax and dirt on the hallway floor.

Dan Pease gives the third-floor hallway of Dakin a "deep scrubbing."

Dan Pease gives the third-floor hallway of Dakin a “deep scrub” to remove dirt and the top layer of old wax.

After Decker, a nine-year veteran of Facilities Management, mops the floors, Pease, in his third year at UMF, makes several passes with a rotating-disc scrubber. Decker then takes up the soapy water with a wet vacuum.

As he works, Decker explains that the cleaning is done as routine maintenance in between the more labor-intensive job of stripping the floors of up to six layers of wax. The most time-consuming aspect is removing the wax buildup at the corners, where the floor tiles meet the lapboards — a job that requires hand scraping, on hands and knees.

“Students don’t walk on that part of the floor,” says Decker of the corners, “but they can see the wax buildup if it isn’t stripped there. The students are my customers here. And I want my customers to be happy.”

Nine-year Facilities Management veteran Steve Decker stripped the main-level floor of Carolyn Stone Hall and then reapplied six coats of wax.

Before shifting over to Dakin, nine-year Facilities Management veteran Steve Decker stripped the main-level floor of Carolyn Stone Hall and then reapplied six coats of wax to help protect the hallway from the sand and salt of the coming winter.