NIU staff prohibited from drinking on the job

By Melissa Blake

NIU Grounds crew members are not living the “High Life” while on the clock, NIU officials say.

A recent photo taken by the Northern Star of an NIU vehicle with a box of Miller High Life in the truck bed is in no way cause for alarm, said Darryl Grayson, interim superintendent of NIU Grounds.

The box of beer, which was sitting inside a bucket on the truck bed, was picked up by someone from grounds and was garbage, Grayson said. It was not an employees’ case of beer.

“We [grounds employees] don’t drink on the job, and we don’t come in drunk,” Grayson said.

It is routine for grounds to supply trash barrels for campus events, such as tailgating, and then pick up the trash when the event is over, Grayson said. Grounds members are stationed across campus, but the west side is “usually the worst” in the amount of trash because of its proximity to the residence halls and the football stadium, he said.

“They [Grounds] could have been walking through the parking lot [of the stadium],” he said of the picture.

Grounds vehicles are leased out by NIU’s Transportation Department, said Transportation Manager Bill Finucane.

“It is university policy for alcohol not to be in any university vehicle,” he said.

Grayson is not concerned about how it looks to have a university vehicle driving around campus with beer in plain sight, even if it was only an empty box. The crew cannot pick up every item of trash and quickly take it to a dumpster, but the crew does try to be efficient.

“We’re just out picking up trash,” he said.

In fact, the grounds crew members are the only people who pick up trash, and employees are not allowed to take the university vehicles home with them. Employees are prohibited from taking the university’s vehicles home with them or using them to go personal shopping, Grayson said. The only time the trucks leave campus is to pick up parts, he said.

“They [the crew] know they’re [the trucks] are strictly for university business,” Grayson said.

Finucane said his department would not want a member of the university community to drink and then get behind the wheel- especially behind the wheel of a university vehicle.

Grayson has been here more than 20 years. In that time, he has never caught anyone drinking while on the job or had to discipline anyone for alcohol-related matters, he said.