It’s a Princeton tradition to clap for a professor at the end of the last lecture of the year. For students, it’s a way to show our appreciation for the work professors do to teach classes and share their knowledge. As the end of the semester approaches and students prepare to head off for break, the Board wants to suggest that students take some extra time and effort to thank some of the other people who are responsible for the quality of our Princeton experience: the staff. Members of the staff often go unacknowledged, but they are vital to making our time here as special as it is.
Since these individuals often work in the early morning, we sometimes take for granted our clean bathrooms, empty trashcans and well-functioning facilities. The men and women who perform these services for us are sometimes unseen and therefore unfortunately underappreciated. Regardless, these services are important elements of the comfort of our Princeton experience. In spite of the mess that we sometimes make, we can wake up and find that it has been cleaned up. This does not excuse our messy behavior, but rather partially illustrates the debt we owe to the staff. We can leave trash outside our rooms, and we know that it will reliably be picked up. And we can frequent clean dining halls and eat high-quality food. While these may seem like small things to students, there is a large amount of work that goes into providing us with these and other services.
In the residential colleges and other dormitories, some RCAs have collected money for holiday gifts for staff members. We think that such efforts represent an effective first step of thanking staff members. Regardless of the method students choose, however, we encourage them to find some small way to thank the people who go into making our Princeton experiences what they are; this method could be gift-giving, or it could be a gesture so simple as to say “thank you.” As we do with our professors, it’s right to thank people for the work they put in and demonstrate how much we appreciate it.
Though it can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of papers and problem sets, we are very fortunate to be able to enjoy the comprehensive care of the Princeton experience. From our professors to our preceptors and the staff, the people at the University do a lot to provide us with the attention that facilitates our learning and growth. As we approach the holidays and prepare to go home, it’s important to take some time to appreciate the wonderful opportunity that we have been given and the people who make it possible.