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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Katzwer’s Out of the Bag: Keep our campus clean!

Published: November 11, 2011
Section: Opinions, Top Stories

When I walk around Brandeis, I am often still taken aback, after more than three years here, by the beauty of the campus. The hills may be irritating when you are rushing to class and the flowers can be too pungent in the spring, making the walkway outside Usdan unbearable, but the campus is, simply said, stunning.

I look around and see the fauna and flora of Brandeis … and trash. Loads of trash, scattered upon the ground, where it clearly does not belong.

Here at Brandeis we have this amazing invention called—no, not Smart Balance—garbage cans. These trash receptacles are all over our fair campus, some highly technological, like some sort of refuse-eating Cylon, and others just your basic bucket.

I am truly dismayed when I meander around campus and see papers, wrappers and other discarded items littering the grass. Most often, these items are less than five steps from an ashcan, as they say in England.

Throwing your garbage away is fundamental to keeping an orderly and appealing campus. And it is easy to do.

Every Friday when I am distributing copies of The Hoot in Usdan, I spend a few minutes cleaning up the bench outside the mailroom. Now, not all of this is garbage; I am aware of that. I recycle old copies of The Hoot; I organize other campus publications back into the neat piles in which they began their bench-life; and I throw out the empty envelopes and candy wrappers strewn there. Now, I am not complaining about cleaning this bench; I do not have to tidy it every Friday. What irks me is the fact that there is something to clean on that bench at all.

I truly do not understand why there is garbage on this bench. There is a garbage can just a few feet away. And, there are three—count them, three—recycling receptacles right there as well. To leave your rubbish there is lazy and, in the case of envelopes, not very smart. I know who you are.

So, you can imagine my frustration last Friday when, after just tidying the bench, I turn around and find a newly dropped Hershey kiss wrapper—five feet away from the garbage can! In order to leave that room, whoever carelessly dropped that garbage would have had to walk by the garbage can.

This is pure laziness. Now, you may be getting angry at me and saying to yourself, “I’m not lazy. Who does this broad think she is?” Well, to quote Peter Gibbons from “Office Space,” that amazing movie: “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.” Yeah, that is not much better. Also, as to whom this broad is, I am someone who lives and learns here with you.

Another epidemic on this campus is the haphazard littering of cigarette butts. I would like to clarify, I do not care if you smoke or not. It’s your body, you can do whatever you like with it. But, I would also like to clarify that Brandeis has provided its smokers with nifty used-cigarette receptacles that provide a place for you to ground out your cigarette and dispose of it.

These receptacles are not merely decorations—although I do think they add a certain panache to our campus.

The worst offenders are those who smoke in Ridgewood’s quadrangle. Again, I don’t care if I have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get to my home in Ziv; I can hold my breath and, seriously, there are so many things that bother me more. I do, however, care about the cigarette butts that cover the ground there.

Earlier this week, I saw a facilities worker trying in vain to clean up that waste. He was attempting to sweep the butts into his dustpan with his broom but, when that failed, this man had to get onto his knees to clean up your home.

That’s right; this is your home. We all live here together and we all want our home to look neat and presentable, both for visitors and for ourselves.

I hate when people yell at litterers by saying, “Would you just throw that on the floor in your house?” Because, for the record, you might, and I am fine with that. If you want your room to be a lamentable mess, that is just fine. Go ahead, throw your dirty clothes on the floor, neglect your laundry and dishes for a few weeks, and forget to throw out your garbage. It is your room, not our room; that “y” makes all the difference.

But, in a space that we must all share, please remember to be respectful of your peers and remember that it takes such little effort to throw your garbage away in the proper place and to keep our campus ship-shape.