NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

The Unrecognized Importance of NJIT’s Groundskeepers

Jason Cordova
Groundskeeper Omar Garcia stands next to a heart-shaped bush of his own creation on Summit Street.

The NJIT campus is comprised of many departments and individuals who work in tandem to keep the campus functioning for the now over 12,000 students in attendance. For some departments, like Public Safety, their roles on campus is immediately recognizable, but for others, like Building Services, much of their labor goes unnoticed and unappreciated. 

As the name suggests, this service at NJIT is responsible for maintaining the grounds of the campus. This includes all fields, walkways, and even the parking garages. “We have six square blocks to take care of, I think it’s like 4 million square feet,” estimated Richard Martinez, Manager of Buildings & Landscape Services.  

The team that Martinez manages is responsible for all types of maintenance including carpentry, painting, mechanical work, and of course, grounds work. In total, Martinez’s team consists of 13 people, with Building Services specifically only having five total members. “…You would think we have an army of 40,” Martinez remarked. For the service, the individual groundskeepers are assigned specific areas to care for, varying with each day and depending on the needs of each area. 

Each individual groundskeeper also has specialized knowledge and certifications pertaining to the work that is required of them, with Martinez recalling that they needed to get their forklift certification renewed soon. Even with all of the arduous work required of them, the groundskeepers still go above and beyond for the sake of the campus. 

While Public Safety is, for the most part, responsible for helping out students directly with any issues, the people of Building Services always make sure to do their part for the things that fall into its wheelhouse, such as returning lost items. “If [someone] loses something, we do our police work and make sure that it’s returned to the proper owner,” said Angel Ramirez, groundskeeper of over three years. Ramirez even recalls an event a few months ago in which he was able to directly return the lost wallet of one unlucky New Yorker. 

Aside from the civic responsibilities of the groundskeepers, they also take it upon themselves to create a uniquely pleasant campus for all in attendance. While this includes duties required of them such as planting in-season flowers and decorating for certain events, groundskeeper Omar Garcia has taken it one step further.  

Garcia, who joined the service roughly 10 years ago, has grown to appreciate the role his job plays in not just the aesthetic maintenance of the campus, but the maintenance of the mental health of students. “If you see the campus looking good, you’re going to feel good. That’s the idea,” said Garcia. 

It’s for this reason that Garcia, of his own volition, takes on the responsibility of carving hearts into certain bushes and shrubs throughout the entire campus. It is Garcia’s philosophy that a simple heart can make the day of someone down on their luck.  

With 15 hearts scattered around campus, Garcia hopes that if they can improve the mood of just one person, they will have served their purpose: “If I do something like this when people are down — maybe you took a test and it didn’t go right, or you just had a bad day — and they see this, I hope it cheers them up and gives them a different mindset from it.” 

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    Richard MartinezFeb 26, 2024 at 10:06 am

    Thank you for the recognition of work, we are here at your service.
    I would like to thank the “Ground Team” by name:

    William Araujo Assistant Manager
    Michael Sippel Supervisor
    Omar Garcia Groundskeeper
    Angel Ramirez Groundskeeper
    Hermogenes (Johnny) Torres
    Hector Paquiyauri
    Herbert Mauricio Diaz