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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Unnecessary advertisements obscure our environmental responsibility

Published: March 23, 2012
Section: Opinions

We all know the Rabb steps. They are feared all over campus. And for those of us who are lucky enough to be midyears taking classes at Shiffman at 9 a.m. in the morning Monday through Thursday, this means that we have to tackle them after our mile-long hike. This also means that we see every advertisement and announcement by every club on campus, day in and day out. And I have to say that I am a little confused as to how this school is going about their broadcasting.

Let me walk you through it, in case you’re not up early enough to see the beginning of the minefield that the Rabb steps resembles by mid-afternoon. Monday is usually the day some kind of new announcement comes out for an event being hosted by a club during the weekend. This can come in the form of hundreds of fliers taped to the ground, the steps, the walls and the ceilings. Or it can come from banners tied above the steps. Maybe even from simple tape letters on the ground. But by Tuesday, or on a bad day by 5 p.m. on Monday, those hundred fliers have been ripped into thousands of tiny pieces and whipped across the Rabb lawn by the wind and by the student body. The tape is torn and missing in most places; the words that it once formed are long gone. I have even witnessed the banners, usually tied above the second tier of stairs, untied from the gusts and whipped to and fro by the winds at scary speeds.

This is disappointing, compared to the lengths to which the rest of the school seems to try to discourage mindless trash. In my dorm hall in section C of The Village, our first recycling grade was posted soon after we arrived second semester. We got a C. Not only did we fail, according to Brandeis standards, but we also received a sheet of tips and hints as to why we did so poorly. I know a few teachers off the top of my head who would never bother to alert me to why I did so poorly without a conference scheduled far in advance. There are also fliers posted all over the building with little tips, such as how staples can be left in when one is recycling paper. Students for Environmental Action goes to great lengths to make sure that we know how to recycle correctly. So why can’t we go to great lengths to stop littering all over Rabb?

There is also the small mention that should be made about the lengths to which our dining halls go to try to be as environmentally friendly as Aramark can afford to be. They provide reusable take-out trays for a small price. They are even colored green—although who knows how many chemicals it takes to dye each tray and what that is putting into our ecosystems back at the factories. That is another column entirely.

For a school that boasts so much about recyclable materials, reusable trays in the dining halls and grades for recycling bins in dorms, we are simply doing a terrible job at Rabb. It may be outrageously important for Russian Club to announce their ball, or for student events to let everyone know about the club night happening over the weekend, but do we really need to sacrifice the beauty and cleanliness of our campus to do so? Save your fliers, save your painted banners, and maybe try sending out a few more e-mails. I know you hate blindly deleting them from your Brandeis mailbox as much as I do, but at least they’re pollution-free.