My neighbor has worked at the University of Southern Maine in its property management/housekeeping department for more than 17 years.

But he has recently expressed to me worry about the stability of his job, as there have been a number of cuts at the university at the “administrative” level – if actually maintaining the buildings and grounds counts as something, which I think they do. Also, he told me the university has considered razing a few buildings.

I said to him, “Hugh, I’ve heard about cuts at the teaching level, but nothing about the maintenance level,” to which he responded, “Yeah, you don’t hear about us.”

I do understand that the university, given its stated shortfalls, needs to make change.

But it would be more genuine of them to reveal cuts they are making across all their departments, so that the students and the public are aware of exactly what is going on, and the students would have as much sympathy for the person who vacuums up after them as for the professor who teaches them how old people living in rural Maine get lonely.

If one would only teach these students how to use an ax and stack wood, we’d all be not only as skilled as all these lonely old Mainers, but actually understand them.

E.M. Burke

Portland