Cleaning up after ourselves

David Lim

Material luxuries aside, Harvard-Westlake gives us the friends, teachers and opportunities that make it a place we can call home.

With these things in mind, it’s pretty shocking that an unidentified student vandalized the bronze cougar statue sunbathing near the fountain in Feldman-Horn Plaza. When Feldman-Horn Gallery was constructed and dedicated, the donor family held an exhibit of their own art pieces. Their bronze cougar, a work by renowned artist Gwynn Murrill, looked so fitting in the place it lays now that they had it recast and presented the copy to the school.

Obviously, whoever defaced  the cougar is but one among us, but this is not the only example of vandalism. This year the administration planted signs all over the quad that read, “Most people clean up after themselves.” Some students have made a mockery of these signs, crossing out “up after” with markers, or simply throwing them on the ground. Some dislodged the placards on the “senior tables,” writing that “most people use better adhesive.” Laugh all you want, but there is validity in the somewhat passive-aggressive reproach. After all, “most people clean up after themselves” can mean a variety of things.

The words serve as a reminder to pick up your trash once you finish your meal. The signs are a mandate not to vandalize school property, something especially pertinent following last year’s table drawings in response to the “make your mark” motto. Believe it or not, doing so is a crime. The signs are a plea to respect your environment and, in doing so, respect those who must tend to it.

Overall, the directive is to leave your environment as pristine as you found it if not more so. It’s a fair request. After all, would you scribble on the walls and furniture of your house? Would you finish a meal and throw the wrappers on your living room floor?

Most people clean up after themselves. Most people don’t draw on the generously donated sculpture. Most people appreciate their surroundings rather than defacing them. Don’t think you are an exception.