Every campus has its heroes, some less
recognized than others. University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point is no
exception. Hidden heroes working behind the scenes doing more than you know.
The custodial staff at UWSP is responsible
for cleaning more than 1.6 million square feet in more than 18 buildings on
campus every day. On top of that, custodial staff is also noted for saving 2 to
3 lives a year on average.
“We do a lot more than just clean
buildings. We see a lot going on,” said Denis Zylkowski, a custodian at UWSP
Zylkowski has witnessed many acts of
vandalism as well as medical emergencies.
Recently Custodial Supervisor Jason Zinda found
a student in diabetic shock. The student had already been lying there for two
hours when Zinda found him. Zinda gave the student CPR until the paramedics
arrived and saved his life.
“It’s not uncommon for us to come across
stuff like that,” Zylkowski said.
One night, Zylkowski saw a suspicious
person in a parking lot trying to light a car on fire. He ended up scaring the
vandal off, who ran away after the police were called.
“We know who belongs here and who doesn’t.
We can be the eyes and ears of campus,” Zylkowski said.
Zylkowski also came across an underage
student who was so drunk he was in a comatose state.
“His friends were carrying him and dropped
him over by the CCC. I called the ambulance, and they had no idea who the kid
was because his friends took his ID. Luckily, I had heard the kids calling his
name earlier,” Zylkowski said.
Those aren’t the only encounters Zylkowski
has come across.
“In the past we had someone on a ledge.
Someone called us and said, ‘We need wrestling mats.’ At that point we knew
exactly what they meant,” Zylkowski said.
The girl was about 20 feet up in the air
and eventually fell and broke her ankle.
“It would have been a lot worse if we
hadn’t gotten there in time,” Zylkowski said.
Tammy Larson, the head of the Academic
Custodial Department, likes being able to help and protect students in need.
the first week of school, there are lots of lost students who are crying and
confused. We try to talk to them and cheer them up, even walk them to class.
We’re always here to help,” Larson said.
Last year, with all the heavy rains and
floods, the custodial staff fixed all of the leaks and got rid of all the
“We save hundreds of thousands of dollars
because we catch these things early,” Zylkowski said.
The academic custodial staff is often taken
for granted for what they do, from keeping the campus looking its best to
protecting students and saving merchandise.
get short-changed for what we do around here. I think it’d be a good idea to
use us more effectively,” Zylkowski said.
“I always tell my staff the students are like
our own. They’re away from their families, so we have to look out for them,”