Harvard University Security, Parking and Museum Guards Union
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June 21, 2003

Dear Sir or Madam,

I recently became aware that William (Billy) Duarte may lose his job as a security guard at Mather House, and I am writing to urge you to consider the essential role that Billy plays at Mather. As a resident tutor here for the past year, I have come to know him very well as a dedicated and integral member of the Mather community. He has impressed me with the seriousness with which he approaches his job, and I have enjoyed his friendship tremendously.

Billy possesses a remarkable work ethic and commitment to Mather. He frequently performs duties beyond his job description to meet his own rigorous standards. For example, one weekend when it was raining heavily, we happened upon two large pools of water in the basement. Billy called facilities maintenance to inform them of the leak, and I assumed that the problem was solved. But he surprised me by finding a mop and spending 15 minutes of his time cleaning up the puddles so that students (who use the basement to walk between buildings) would not slip on the floor before maintenance arrived.

Billy is constantly engaged in some activity, from directing students as they move at the end of the term to making rounds in the building. He takes special pride in knowing exactly what is happening in the dorm. For example, one task assigned to the resident tutors is surveying the building twice each weekend night to ensure that parties are registered and in control. Billy always insists on joining us to keep abreast of the students' activities, and, on a few occasions when it was my turn, he had already completed the rounds, saving me the trouble!

Billy has a fantastic rapport with the students. He has taken students on fishing trips and keeps in contact with several former undergraduates. Every Mather student knows him, and he is universally loved. One Friday and Saturday this past spring, as we made the rounds together, Billy stopped to inform residents that their music was too loud or that it was time for a party to end. He handled every encounter with a perfect balance of kindness and firmness, and I was very impressed with the respect that the students showed him. They were quick to comply with his requests, and I believe it is because they realize, as I do, that he is motivated not by a desire to antagonize them, but by genuine concern for their safety and collective comfort. Their love for Billy was obvious, and a few students even left their parties to steal a few minutes of his time for conversation.

Academic, social, and other pressures often make life very stressful for the undergraduates. Billy is always positive and light-hearted, and his presence helps to create a friendly and safe environment to minimize these pressures. It is essential for the students to have staff members such as Billy who know their names and who sincerely care for their well-being. His departure would truly be a loss for the students, and I urge you to consider foremost the quality of their lives in any decision concerning his employment. Billy is a wonderful employee with a model work ethic and a passion for serving Mather House, and he is simply irreplaceable!

Shannon M.
Assistant Senior Tutor,
Mather House

Site Editor: Howard Reid
Last updated 10/01/2003.  Published by the Harvard University Security, Parking and Museum Guards Union.