Clean up, clean up…

The cup, the tray, the bottle, the plate, the burger and the napkins are stacked impossibly high on the table, but it’s not mine, so I’ll leave it.

It’s the mindset that many members of the community have sunken into. Now, the lunch tables are smothered with trash.

Walking through the quad everyday, unable to see the tops of tables I began to wonder: Why is there so much trash?

The problem starts when people sit down and leave a spoon or a chip bag. Occasionally, some hooligans will leave mounds of half-eaten cakes. But usually, it’s something unintentional and careless.

We all have the occasional litterbug inside us, but the real breakdown in the community is the apathetic response.

There is more trash on our tables than there was last year, but people are refusing to accept it and just nudge the problem to the middle of the table. They won’t have to deal with it until later.
Chemistry teacher Christopher Dartt worked as a SQUID teacher coordinator and saw this problem in sharp relief.

“If a student would rather sit with their friends, study, and eat lunch at a table covered with old trash and flies, why do I think they are going to help solve the world’s problems in a few years?” Dartt said. “I’m scared.”

The thing about our school is that it’s more than just buildings and books, and it’s our responsibility to act responsibly as an active community.

History teacher Greg Gonzalez runs the SQUID program on the upper campus and has made plans with the administration for a better notification system and possibly harsher punishments.  But Gonzalez said that’s not the direction he wants to move in.

“SQUID is supposed to increase awareness,” Gonzalez said. “The program should serve more as a reminder.”

The main drive behind a clean campus should instead be “little moments of leadership,” Gonzalez said.

On the right kind of campus, SQUID would be obsolete, and moments of leadership would wholly eliminate the problem.

Though we grow as scholars, a lot of us seem to be at an impasse in maturing as people. Just because it’s not ours doesn’t mean it’s okay to ignore it.

In this column, I should offer a course of action because I’m not supposed to just complain and point out the problem. But I’m at a loss because just by the group of tables outside of Chalmers are five trashcans within a 10-foot radius of each table.

I could ask the administration to rope off tables where students leave piles of trash. I could suggest that the SQUID program immediately implement harsher punishments for students’ missing duties.
But what I will do instead is beg my own peers to pick up their own trash. The old axiom of pre-school days, “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere,” encompasses more than just the physical need to keep the campus clean.

It’s respecting the maintenance crew that cleans our entire campus and now has to deal with disgusting tables. It’s acknowledging that we’re part of a community and that the “it’s not mine” attitude won’t fly. It’s shaking off the apathy that has let garbage and accompanying flies rule our tables.

Let’s not make the administration step in on this one. Picking up our own trash is something we should be able to do ourselves.

The Prefect Council has stressed how this year they would like to make our community more leadership-based.

If the kids on that show can simply follow the purple dinosaur’s song, we can certainly follow the rules that we know are right.