Banners and buttons dominated dining halls as Staff Appreciation Week returned to UChicago. The week-long event aimed to celebrate the work staff members put in to make the University an enjoyable place for students, faculty and visitors.
Staff Appreciation Week began last year with Student Government and the Inter-House Council (IHC) acting as joint hosts. Youssef Kalad, then a third-year College Council representative, introduced the initiative and saw it through. The week-long event took place during spring quarter of last year and featured a banner competition between Houses at each dining hall, as well as the distribution of buttons with appreciative messages that students could give to University staff members.
This year’s Staff Appreciation Week was overseen by second year student Grace Pai, the SG liaison to IHC. Working with IHC’s Social Chair Karmela Padavic, Vice-President Richard Deulofeut, Advisor from the Housing Office Nicole Eggleston, and first-year College Council representative Vidal Anguiano, Pai sought to introduce new features that would make the event more engaging.
The buttons and banner competition remained a staple of Staff Appreciation Week, but this year dining hall workers will be able to vote for their favorite banner. The 3 victorious Houses will receive a study break funded by UChicago Dining and Aramark as their prize.
Aside from the buttons and banner competition, SG and IHC incorporated more personal touches to this year’s event. One student representative each from SG and IHC was sent to every dining hall’s pre-shift meetings on Monday, where they personally thanked the staff for all their hard work.
“People generally don’t take the time to tell the staff they are appreciated,” explains Pai. “While simple ‘thank yous’ are common, the appreciation element isn’t felt too often. [The visits] were to put a face to the banners and the general theme of the week.”
The greater challenge, however, was to somehow reach housing staff. In order to get students to show their appreciation for the University’s housing workers, the IHC asked each house to bake one batch of a baked good and drop them off at the staff break room of their dorm. The idea was to present a housing-specific initiative, which the SG and IHC felt was missing from last year’s Staff Appreciation Week.
As the week wound down, Pai spoke with a couple students and staff about improvements for next year’s Staff Appreciation Week. Suggestions included increasing the frequency of Staff Appreciation Week to once per quarter to keeping the “baking extravaganza” introduced this year. While details are still in the works, students and staff alike can be confident that Staff Appreciation Week at UChicago will grow.
Check out the Thank You video here.