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Letter to the Editor

Descriptive inadequacy

This is being written in response to the April 23 Vanguardarticle, “Blaming the Janitor.” Reporting the PSU allegation thatPHC, the company that PSU contracts with for janitorial services,is doing a shabby job. There might be some legitimate complaintsthat PSU has with the management of PHC, and furthermore, theremight be some issues regarding PSU not paying PHC enough forappropriate services. The more far-reaching issue, which I willaddress, is the slant that Art Chenoweth took when composing thisarticle for the front page of the newspaper:

There were phrases like “Haverty called the level of performanceof PHC workers ‘deplorable.'”- Was this in reference to allworkers, or just the management and specific workers at PSU? Thenext sentence might shed some light “Complaints and work ordershave to pass through four hands before they finally reach the frontlines.” This does indicate that there might be a specific bentagainst the management, but “PHC workers” is a definitegeneralization, and combine this with the references regardingabsenteeism later in the article – I am not saying that there arenot areas of university cleanliness that should be addressed, butif a person who had limited contact with people with disabilitiesread this article, they might get a skewed view.

“Drug users are not turned away, as evidenced in the company’sbrochure, quoting Michelle Large: ‘Having work helps you not wantto go out and use.'”

Issues from past drug use are considered a legal disability inthe United States. Many people with past issues do have desires popup regarding the return to their past addictive behaviors.Increased self-esteem from working can be the best cure for thistemptation to go back and use. If there are issues with a specificdrug user working for PHC, their manager should be notified so thatappropriate steps can be taken, addressing the individual worker,not generalizing to all workers in the company, again, possiblycoloring people’s views of people with disabilities. Most peoplewith disabilities do not use illegal drugs.

Why was a one-armed man manipulating a broom mentioned in thisarticle?

Was the man sweeping? Can a one-armed men sweep? OF course! Ifthe man

was incapable of sweeping, then he should not have been hired todo the job. To mention the fact that a one-armed man wasmanipulating a broom, without connecting that fact to the type ofwork the individual was doing suggests that it is horrible for himto sweep, or that he specifically was doing a bad job when he maynot have been. If mentioning the one-armed man was put in becausespecific managers or administrators demonstrate inappropriatenegative views publicly, that fact should be clearly stated,exposing the ablest attitude of that supervisor so that action canbe taken. All workers, front-line or supervisory, should beevaluated based upon their work.

I could mention other negative aspects regarding this article,but I will highlight something positive: “Darren Coats, a PHCemployee, told the Vanguard in 2001 that before his job at PSU hewas in a homeless shelter, and PHC helped him turn his lifearound.” This quote was in small print under a picture at the endof this long article. Many people will not read this quote becauseof its placement and furthermore, there were not any quotes fromcurrent PHC employees that are positive. Are all 40 PHC employeesworking on the front lines at PSU drug users, lazy, incompetent …I highly doubt that, but if I had no experience with disabledindividuals, the slant this article takes might color my opinion ofworkers with disabilities. People with disabilities go to college,get married, have kids…many are capable of doing physical work,and perform well on the job if they are given appropriateopportunity and training. This applies to people withoutdisabilities too.

Jody John Ramey