School is a place for thinking. You wrack your brain for the right formula during an AP Physics test, you pick the most insightful point you can contribute to a discussion in English, you figure out the shade of red that will perfectly complement the green in the painting you’re working on in your Drawing and Painting class. Home is the place to throw on a pair of sweatpants, sit back, relax and let your eyes glaze over as you scroll down your Facebook newsfeed.
So why do we stop thinking as soon as we step on the quad? It makes sense that we should still be thoughtful and conscious of our actions after thanking our teachers and leaving the classroom. But the remnants of our meals that constantly litter the tables prove otherwise.
The trash on the quad is a product of mindlessness, not maliciousness. What happens isn’t a crime — we sit down at a table with friends, eat and rush off to class next period, leaving a forgotten water bottle or sandwich container behind. That’s why it should be easy to fix. The past year, however, has shown that the signs fixed to each table are ineffective reminders, raising ire instead of action.
The latest iteration of the sign tries to humanize the problem by naming maintenance staff Gregorio Hernandez in its plea to the student body to pick up after themselves. Yet we still reacted with the usual defacements, which were all the more insulting because instead of insulting the message and the administration who wrote it, we insulted an innocent bystander in the process.
The trash problem isn’t new. There’s a reason only the Middle School has the campus-wide clean-up program SQUID — when the administration tried to institute it at the Upper School years ago, students refused to show up on the day they were supposed to attend.
The solution to our problem doesn’t lie in any official, administrative effort; whether it’s SQUID or the signs, that much is clear. As upper schoolers, we like to think we’re more mature and can take care of ourselves without interference, so we reflexively object to any impositions made upon us, even when they make sense. But we can’t reserve that privilege without the evidence to back it up.
The solution to our problem lies in us. After all, we are more mature; we can take care of ourselves without interference. All we need to do is retain the mindset we need in the buildings that surround the quad: just think. Before rushing off to class, scan the table, find one of the many trashcans or recycling bins nearby, remind your friend if necessary. It’s not hard, and it’s probably the easiest thinking you’ll do all day.