While I was with my family over break, I mentioned my dorm’s housekeeper in conversation, at which point my family stopped chattering and asked me, “Exactly what kind of a school do you go to?” I explained, somewhat bashfully, that our building attendant cleans our communal bathroom every day, Monday through Friday, and our individual rooms are vacuumed, dusted, and have the trash removed once every two weeks.
Having lived with this system for nearly a semester, it has become normal for me to greet my building attendant every morning in the bathroom, and I’ve come to take for granted that the trash in the bathroom will be emptied every day. However, a while back, I realized just how careless and disrespectful some students can be when it comes to cleaning up after themselves.
I awoke one Sunday morning to find what appeared to be the remnants of Armageddon. Living in North Quad, I understand and accept that my dorm’s lounge isn’t going to be the cleanest place on Sunday mornings, and it doesn’t faze me anymore to see the trash piled into garbage cans just outside the doors. However, the trash is usually in the garbage cans, thanks to ASCMC’s late-night clean-up crews for registered parties such as TNC, NOT thrown into corners of the room and the bushes outside the lounge. This particular Sunday morning, all four doors to the lounge were propped open, presumably to air out the stench of spilled, sticky beer, and left-alone vomit.
The doors remained open until Monday morning when I encountered our building attendant attempting to clean up the catastrophic mess. After I apologized for whatever had happened on Saturday night, she sighed and said that it was okay but that she and a few others had already spent hours cleaning that morning, and it would take many more hours to make the building presentable again. She mentioned how this would add numerous hours to her her daily restroom-cleaning rounds, but before I left, she still smiled and told me to enjoy my day.
As I left her there, mop in hand, I couldn’t help but feel a hot twinge of embarrassment creep up my neck that my fellow CMC students had done this to her and that none of us had taken it upon ourselves to clean it up between then and when we saw it Sunday morning. The next day, others in my dorm gave excuses like, “Because there was no registered party, there was no one to pick up the mess,” and, “It was the ____ team,” and, “I heard they invited a bunch of students from La Verne and they trashed the place.” But in the end, if we really are “Leaders in the Making,” we should have stepped up and taken accountability for the mess that was made instead of leaving it for our building attendants to take care of on Monday morning.
This is not an issue of there not being a registered party with no one, like ASCMC, in charge of clean-up, and it is not an issue of invaders from off campus. It is an issue of respect—respect for your campus, respect for your fellow students, and respect for your building attendants, many of whom wake up at five in the morning every weekday to clean up after our late-night escapades.
At the beginning of last year, there was a call for students to hold themselves accountable and pick up after themselves. Will Brown published an article in the Forum called The Economics and Ethics of Party Cleanup, in which he emphasized that it is economically favorable for CMC students to clean up our messes. He referenced CMC students’ hypocrisy, calling ourselves leaders when we don’t take the initiative to clean up at the end of the night. Brown made many good points, but unfortunately the issue still exists, and it must be addressed again in order to remind students that it is not our building attendants’ job to clean up after us on Friday and Sunday mornings. It is not their job, nor should it be.
Over the past few weeks, the issue of trash left over from parties has become a topic of conversation again in ASCMC’s weekly Student Senate meetings. At the meetings, students have shared their disgust and frustration at the amount of garbage that is left in residence hall lounges and the general state of campus the mornings after parties. Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR), CMC‘s environmental club, has decided to hold a “Red Cup Awareness Weekend” the weekend of February 22. According to Hilary Haskell CMC ’14, SPEAR will be collecting cups after TNC on Thursday night and crafting them into a display for Friday morning. On Saturday, the club plans to wear red cup costumes and pick up trash at the party. Additionally, the club is working to make red cup recycling bins more readily available at parties.
One Thursday night, Zachariah Oquenda ’16, Chair of the Senate Campus Clean-up Task Force, cleaned Wohlford lounge after TNC was held there. Usually ASCMC, including student security, cleans up after TNC, but according to ASCMC Dorm Affairs Chair Abby Michaelsen ’15, Oquenda asked to be allowed to clean up himself so he could document the amount of trash left after the party. Oquenda picked up 232 red cups off the lounge’s floor, swept up three pieces of broken glass, and found four other pieces of broken glass outside. Later, he picked up 63 cups littered around Berger lounge. Then, Saturday night, Oquenda cleaned up 44 cups, 12 beer cans, two bottles of wine, and a broken wine glass from Berger lounge.
The efforts of SPEAR and Oquenda represent a growing concern among CMC students and building attendants alike. We may all respect our building attendants during the daytime, but try to remember them at night the next time you spray champagne on the walls of Boswell lounge or decide it’s okay to leave your trash sitting on the arm of one of Wohlford’s couches. We are one of few schools that have the luxury of having our rooms cleaned for us, but we should not take advantage of this luxury. We have to have more respect for the men and women who end up cleaning up after us because we’re better than this. I know we are.