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Something fishy in halls - and it's good

12/16/2009

Counterclockwise from left: Opal Tipton, Dawna Kay Gross, Jackie Kelly, Diana Hicks.
It might be a birthday cake of the month, or notes of encouragement for finals week, or a cup of chicken noodle soup, but the little and some big things Miami University employees do for students and our community make a difference. The Miami e-Report is sharing some of the stories that illustrate the Miami experience. Sometimes those stories are a little fishy - as in pet fish.

An annual December check of residence hall rooms ensures that refrigerators are unplugged and food is not left to spoil. More than once at Stanton Hall, it has also meant the saving of pet fish and care of student-owned plants.

Diana Hicks, Jackie Kelly, Dawna Kay Gross and Opal Tipton see to their good care. They leave a note to tell the student that the fish has been moved and is being cared for in the staff break room. Other times in Hick’s 23 years experience, students have requested plant or fish care while they went home for the break.

“We clean the tank, feed the fish, refill the water,” said Kelly. There are two growing fantail goldfish and two Black Moor goldfish in the tank now. Gross has weekend feeding duties.

Last year a student left a Siamese fighting fish and the residence hall staff adopted it, too. “Shark bait” was its name. “Sharpei” is now what Tipton calls it. Tipton was reassigned from Stanton to Porter, and has taken Sharpei to her new hall.

“I talk to that fish and feed him as soon as I come in,” she said.

Pet and plant care is a fraction of the total care residence hall staff members give to their residential charges.

“We give advice to the lovelorn, and sometimes we act as nursemaids,” said Tipton. “We love our kids.” She gives the students the choice of calling her Opal or Mom, but she remembers Jeff from three years ago who said “I’m calling you Nana,” because, well, you know who she reminded him of.

December’s Birthday Cookie Day was last week. Like in all the residence halls, the department of housing, dining and guest services celebrates student birthdays each month. For some it’s a Cake Day. Tipton reminds her wards of the coming treats with a note on their mirrors.

The women split their preference over whether it’s easier to tend after female or male students, however, Kelly confirmed, “The girls floors smell better.” With all of them, Hicks said, “We enjoy getting close to the students.”

This year, the women aren’t aware of any fish to be concerned about. But one female student has an orchid in her room. If it doesn’t go home, it will surely be admired and tended in a certain basement break room.

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Sharpei in his travel container.

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