Moore Residence Hall was dedicated in October 1929—the day after the stock market crashed.
Today it has a new role in a new historical upheaval, as one of the “3-M dorms” (along with Morrow and Morris Pratt) each housing some of the 160 or so students who’ve stayed on campus during the pandemic.
And what’s keeping Moore going, in large part, are its custodians. We spoke to one pair, Ath Chea and Patrick Connell, assigned to work in this sole building (though Chea also helps clean and disinfect Keefe Health Center). Before March, Connell was assigned to Kirby and Holden theaters and Alumni Gymnasium at night after home games. “Staying in the one building the whole time—that’s different,” he says of his current duties.
The pair disinfect Moore’s seven bathrooms twice a day with a Hillyard C-3 machine, a state-of-the-art institutional cleaning system. It’s a thick cart on wheels, royal blue in color, standing about 4 feet tall and containing three elements: Suprox, a peroxide-based cleaner; Re-Juv-Nal, a disinfectant registered with the EPA to combat COVID-19; plus fresh water to rinse. All liquids are sprayed with a pressure-washer nozzle.
Chea has been at the College for almost 20 years, but Connell just since 2019. Connell is grateful that Chea has “taught me lots of tricks of the trade.”
Six pairs of custodians work five days on, five days off at the 3-Ms. Chea and Connell also clean and disinfect the common areas in Moore, where students can gather at a social distance. The two wear masks and gloves at all times, and goggles when necessary. They maintain social distance but are able to talk as they work. What do they talk about? “Everything,” says Chea: “My background, his background, my family, his family.”
Meanwhile, the College’s custodial staff continues to clean designated rooms in the uninhabited dorms, in case a student should need to quarantine. They also sanitize the academic and administrative buildings that remain open on campus.
The students in Moore thank the custodians all the time, says Connell: “They say ‘Hi! How are you doing? How do you feel? Your family’s safe? Are you safe?’”
Adds Chea, “We are happy to be working here. We respect all the students; they respect us. They are happy to see us and see us cleaning for them.” — Katharine Whittemore