If you lived in Calvert Hall or Waring Commons during the past two years, then you have undoubtedly been greeted with a cheery “Hey honey, how you doing?” during a morning trip to the bathroom. These sweet moments would be courtesy of Elsie Dickerson, a housekeeping staff member whose buoyant personality never failed to bring smiles to the faces of grumpy students waking up after a long night of studying. During her years at St. Mary’s, the woman dubbed “Ms. Elsie” became a very well-known and beloved figure among the students, and her care and concern for those with whom she interacted was undeniable. This is why it came as a shock to many when Ms. Elsie was fired from her position at an unspecified time in the past month under dubious circumstances.
A petition was created on the website MoveOn.org by junior Ruth Tyson, a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), to revoke the clause “fired with cause” from Dickerson’s unemployment status, as this prevents her from finding future employment outside of the College. “Because she was such a great worker and person, we care as students of St. Mary’s College of Maryland about her well being the same way she cared for ours,” the petition’s webpage states. So far, the petition has gained 259 signatures out of its proposed goal of 300. Once this goal is reached, the petition will be delivered to Derek Thornton, Assistant Vice President of Operations, and Lee Saunders, President of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees).
Students’ reactions on the petition’s webpage have been mostly ones of disbelief and deep concern. “This woman emanates the spirit of a saint…she is someone who wants to make everyone around her smile,” commented senior Juliana Torres. “I don’t know much about Ms. Elsie, but I do know she took pride in her work, and…deserves recognition for the love and time she poured into the successful foundation and running of this institution.”
Junior Derrick Fyfield asked school administrators to “please reconsider the judgement that has been passed. Although I am unaware of the situation that caused her release, I completely disagree with such a harsh statement. [P]lease remove the ‘with cause’ from her record. Give her the opportunity to make others as happy as she has made us here at St. Mary’s.”
Because Dickerson was not able to receive any unemployment checks until Dec. 4, students were worried about her well-being during the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Tyson started a fundraising petition on YouCaring.com to help Dickerson financially before the holidays. As of press time, the petition has raised $427 out of its goal of $500.
Dickerson’s selflessly caring attitude truly embodies the the type of warm and inclusive community that St. Mary’s strives to create, and it is evident from the responses to these two petitions that this attitude is something which current St. Mary’s students are eager to emulate.