SBCC custodial staff works until sunrise preparing for a new day


Courtesy of Miguel Pineda

The custodial night-time crew, posing for their staff photos in Santa Barbara, Calif. Courtesy image from Miguel Pineda.

Emma Welch, Associate Editor

Empty garbage cans, clean surfaces and desks, spotless sidewalks and classrooms–how did that happen? Did all of the trash just magically disappear? No, at City College the custodians work through all hours of the night to maintain campus cleanliness.

The team of custodians at City College run 17 routes throughout the campus Monday through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. and on Friday from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. All of the workers empty garbage, vacuum the facilities and sanitize classrooms. 

Miguel Pineda, the nighttime custodial supervisor, has been working for City College for 12 years and three years have been in his leadership role. Pineda works Monday through Friday not only in his position of supervisor, but also as a custodian alongside his team. 

At City College, there are only so many nighttime classes for students to enroll in. When the custodians start their shift, the campus is close to a ghost town.  

Various custodians begin to run the 17 routes that are in place covering each point on the school map with nearly no students in sight. 

Miguel Pineda, the night-time custodial supervisor, photographed for staff pictures in Santa Barbara, Calif. Courtesy image from Miguel Pineda
Miguel Pineda, the night-time custodial supervisor, photographed for staff pictures in Santa Barbara, Calif. Courtesy image from Miguel Pineda (Courtesy of Miguel Pineda)

Pineda believes that even though the janitors aren’t around the school enough to have personal relationships with students, they form a connection to the student body by keeping a clean and safe environment for them to be successful in.

“We have a huge influence [on the students]… whatever we can project to our students, it can go a long way. We do it because we care,” Pineda said.

Before starting their shift, the workers collect their gear which includes keys, a flashlight, a radio, and other miscellaneous items to assist their cleaning. Every night Pineda checks for “special cleaning requests” asked by faculty members which they will add to their nightly route. 

According to Pineda, the only two departments that are essential for a school to run are professors and custodians. Without janitorial staff, schools would be filled with germs and trash causing it to become an unsafe learning environment. 

Negative stigma against custodians have had an impact on the staff at City College according to Pineda. He shares that while the team works every night, they catch themselves feeling as if they are on “the bottom of the food chain.” Pineda explains that these feelings of under appreciation have overwhelmed the minds of the whole staff, and are one of the hardest parts of the job. 

“I speak for my whole team, sometimes we feel unappreciated… but it is our job,” Pineda said. Despite these feelings of doubt and troubles he explains, the staff continues working.

Being separated from the rest of the faculty and students the majority of the time, due to their working hours, does not give them the time or platform to be seen and heard. Pineda adds that he is there for his employees and provides them with everything that they need. 

“It’s a big line of responsibilities from providing supplies for the guys, and [I] provide support for whatever they are going through,” the supervisor said.

After completing their shift just before sunrise, Pineda closes the books, the workers check out and the campus is ready for another day for students to learn. 

“We have always tried to find our voice and be heard,” Pineda said. “I am so thankful for this college.” 

Correction: March 17 

An earlier version stated that Pineda was a supervisor for nearly 10 years but he’s been on staff for 12 years and a supervisor for three years.