Prepping for the New Semester

The start of a new semester is a busy time for every campus rec department. To stay ahead of the game, Nicholas Knowles, the director of campus recreation at Western Illinois University (WIU), shares how his facility preps for a new semester.

Every year, in January and July, sections of the campus rec facility at WIU close during a four-day period to allow for deep cleaning. “We have a cleaning schedule we prepare and submit to our facilities management department, which houses our janitorial staff, and we outline and detail how we want everything cleaned as far as certain rooms, times, dates and sections,” explained Knowles.

While janitorial staff perform routine cleaning on a daily basis, and help out during the new semester prep, members of the campus rec staff, including Knowles, also pitch in to help clean and move equipment during the four-day period. He describes it as more of a bonding experience, rather than a daunting task.

“We’ve made it a team building experience, where the director of campus recreation is carrying equipment out of the weight room with a 20-year-old equipment attendant, and it’s a great time to get to know our employees more,” said Knowles. “I actually look forward to it every year.”

Because there is a cleaning schedule in place and plenty of helping hands, the WIU facility is able to stay open during this time, rather than having to close during the four days. Many of the deep cleaning tasks performed revolve around facility equipment and hard to reach places.

“We will move equipment so they can high dust above the weight room on the first night, and the next day, janitorial staff on third shift will scrub the floors,” said Knowles.  “On Day Two, we’re cleaning all the equipment we moved out of the weight room. Throughout other times, more areas of the facility are being cleaned – so it’s segmented into sections.”

Knowles elaborates it’s important to take advantage of this downtime before the start of the semester, and even though sections of the facility may close, patrons have always been receptive to this process because it shows they care about the cleanliness of their facility.

“It’s important to word that in your signage when you have information posted on social media, your website and in the facility,” he said. “You’re doing this to take care of the equipment and to keep it clean, and you appreciate their understanding as customers.”

Additionally, Knowles has been adamant about keeping a yearly routine schedule and making patrons aware of the closures well before they happen. “It’s important to stick to the same type of schedule and timeline each year so your patrons understand it’s going to happen every year,” he said. “We had the closures on our website months in advance, and we had signage up in our facility a month before, so we give our patrons plenty of notice – make sure they are aware.”

Brittany Howard
Brittany is an assistant editor at Peake Media. Reach her at

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