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Do residential colleges have enough custodial staff?

A white Ford Transit Connect with a "Princeton University Facilities" sticker on the side sits parked behind Baker Rink. It is night and there is dim lighting.
A Facilities van sits parked behind Baker Rink.
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

As campus has expanded over the past few years, Princeton has opened two new residential colleges, which feature more gender neutral bathrooms than their Gothic-style predecessors. An analysis by The Daily Princetonian found that the number of custodians varies widely across the relatively equally-sized residential colleges.

According to Princeton Facilities website, Princeton custodians have a variety of roles for a salary of just over $20 an hour. The job includes “performing routine cleaning duties, such as dusting, mopping, vacuuming, restocking, and refilling in different spaces across campus including restrooms.” The website also says that they may assist with snow removal activities and minor maintenance such as adjusting furniture.


Richard Brown, the Assistant Director for Building Services, wrote in a statement to the ‘Prince’ that “the custodial-staff-to-residential-college ratio can vary depending on the size of the college, the number of students, and the specific demands of the campus.” He added that custodial staff often work in shifts and that “their scheduling considers peak usage times and critical cleaning needs, which may vary from one location to another.”

To analyze the levels of custodial staffing  across Princeton's residential colleges, we pulled data on the number of custodians in each residential college from the Facilities website as well as the numbers of freshmen and sophomores living in each residential college from the Residential College Student Facebook. Juniors and seniors are not included in these numbers because only a small percentage of them still live in the residential colleges, but if they were, the student-to-custodian ratio would increase with the addition of these upperclassmen.

Forbes has the highest student-to-custodian ratio with 83 students per custodian while New College West (NCW) has the lowest ratio: 26 students per custodian. Forbes likely has the largest student-to-custodian ratio because of the large number of private bathrooms that do not require custodial attention since students are responsible for private bathrooms. However, Rockefeller College —where the vast majority of bathrooms are communal— has a ratio of 69 students per custodian, meaning a custodian in Rockefeller serves more than two times as many students as a custodian in NCW.

The University did not provide the ‘Prince’ with the number of bathrooms in each residential college. However, the ‘Prince’ was able to estimate the number of bathrooms in Yeh College by walking through the entirety of the residential college. Yeh College has a total of 113 toilets and 113 showers, indicating a total facility number of 226. Assuming every custodian is responsible for cleaning bathrooms, that means that each custodian is responsible for regularly cleaning roughly 23 bathrooms each week. Yeh has one of the lowest student-to-custodian ratios on campus, but this statistic could be explained by the number of gender neutral bathrooms in Yeh and NCW, which were completed in 2022.


Annie Wang ’27, a student living in Joline Hall in Mathey College which has 56 students per custodian, told the ‘Prince’ that she doesn't “spend much time in [her] dorm or hall.” She also described how she sees the bathrooms as “clean, for what they are” and does not attribute any uncleanliness to understaffing.

Assistant Director of Building Services Richard Brown emphasized that “it’s also important for students to take responsibility for the spaces they use,” noting that “simple practices like cleaning up after yourself, disposing of trash properly, and reporting issues can go a long way in keeping restrooms clean.” He added that “student groups, residence hall associations, and campus organizations can work together with the custodial operations team” to ensure cleanliness.

Recently, students in Holder and Henry Halls have experienced plumbing predicaments and unpleasant odors, which took several days to resolve. Holder Hall is a part of Rockefeller College, which has the most students per custodian among the residential colleges.

William Neumann is a contributing Data writer for the ‘Prince.’

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