A group of academics and students have charged in articles and on Twitter that Dorm Crew — a Harvard College program in which undergraduates clean other students’ bathrooms for pay — is demeaning to the students who participate in it.
Harvard Dorm Crew plans to shorten its work day and include extra advising sessions in its Fall Clean-Up schedule next semester.
These maids, alternatively monikered “sweeps,” “biddies,” (a diminutive for the name Bridget that became a colloquial name for a maid) and “goodies,” were considered a staple of the Harvard College experience. In late 1950, university officials anticipated that the maids would soon demand higher wages and proposed the more economical Student Porter Program.
Dorm Crew has implemented a more generous pay schedule this fall and offered dinners during its pre-orientation program for the first time, following suggestions from an employee survey and criticisms in the College’s report on diversity and inclusion.
Harvard Dorm Crew is a division of Facilities Maintenance Operations and employs scores of students to perform custodial jobs for on-campus housing. The students running this massive operation are no strangers to surprise. The cleaning teams have tackled everything from giant messes to bizarre left-behind possessions. After the mass exodus of students at the start of summer, dorm crew employees remain at Harvard to clean out the newly vacated rooms. It’s a chance to see the school in a whole new light, and catch glimpses of student lives from Mather to the Quad. It’s also a chance to find some crazy stuff.