Duncan S. Stearns '87 has been scrubbing toilets, mopping floors and moving furniture on campus for a week and loving it.
It's not the work that he liked so much, but getting a "running start" on Freshman Week.
"Working fall clean-up has given me time to get used to Cambridge and Harvard," he said last week. "I have few apprehensions about next week, I've already got some friends, so I can relax and watch everyone else go by."
Added David B. Stone '87: "I'm looking forward to being able to sit in my room and watch the other freshmen come in."
"I've been able to get a general feeling for the university this week, so I'm no longer intimidated," he said.
As part of the largest fall-clean up crew in recent years, Stearns, Stone and nearly 150 other students last week tackled the summer's mildew, dust and grime to get undergraduate living quarters ready for students' return.
For almost 30 years, Buildings and Grounds (B&G) Custodial Services has used student help to clean University housing.
"Students do a much better job. I'd hate to go to an outside contractor because it would create utter chaos," said Joe A. Dussault, supervisor of custodial services.
Supervised by 10 upperclassmen, the student crew was responsible for disinfecting bathrooms, sweeping and mopping floors, and dusting and arranging furniture in all Yard dorms and River Houses within four days.
The crew, which included approximately 80 freshmen, worked eight-hour days beginning at 8 a.m. During their free time, the students perused the Square, relaxed in the Yard, or socialized in their rooms.
"We play quarters after work," said Barnaby R. Nygren '87, referring to the college drinking game. Nygren holds the crew's record for straight successful attempts at 27.
But fall clean-up is not all fun and games. "It's toil," pointed out Celia M. Francis '87. "I'm just here because it pays 15 cents more per hour than my summer job."
Other students have found the work unpleasant, partly because of rampant insect infestation.
Richard Scifeddine '87 recalled a four-inch-long cockroach he found in the closet of one Yard room. Despite a thorough dousing with various industrial-strength chemicals, the bug scurried away into a crevice.