Students have reported an accumulation of trash in the hallways, walkways and bushes of on-campus apartments such as Village A and Henle Village after the Office of Planning and Facilities Management began consolidating trash disposal services in off-campus townhouses last year.
Trash in Alumni Square and Nevils Village has also accumulated over the past weeks.
According to Tina Cheesman (SFS ’19) who lives in Henle Village, there is a particularly large amount of trash buildup in and surrounding her apartment complex on the weekends.
“There’s a used condom from the first week of school that’s still on the staircase leading to our apartment,” Cheesman said.
Director of Residential Education Ed Gilhool said trash is not only a nuisance but also a hygiene issue.
“The Office of Residential Living encourages students to take ownership for the care of their communities, which includes disposing of trash appropriately,” Gilhool wrote in an email to The Hoya. “In addition to the burden litter has on members of our Housekeeping and Facilities team, excessive trash invites rodents and detracts from the overall student and guest experience.”
Multiple administrative offices and student groups have begun considering options for trash reduction, litter prevention and sustainability to address the issue.
The Office of Sustainability currently runs GU Litter Free – a student-led litter cleanup initiative for campus and surrounding neighborhoods – while the Georgetown Community Partnership is developing a “Clean Block Competition” this fall to provide motivation for keeping neighborhoods litter free, according to Office of Sustainability Director Audrey Stewart.
Georgetown University Student Association Senator Ben Baldwin (SFS ’19), who co-chairs the sustainability policy team, said GUSA has been considering ways to raise awareness of the prevalence of litter on campus to help address the problem.
“Right now, GUSA is just looking at ways to make sure that people are being stewards of their own environment,” Baldwin said. “We are trying to make sure that students are responsible for the things that they litter and that they are responsible for the things that they leave on the ground.”
Baldwin said GUSA has pushed for more opportunities for students to recycle on campus, especially during large events.
“We are working on ways to expand recycling opportunities on campus,” Baldwin said. “Right now we are looking at ways to potentially change the way that we hold events on campus so that we can actually have either catering options or other event options that allow for either recyclable plastics or other types of materials to be used so that we don’t have such a large amount of trash or waste left over after the events that we hold.”
Kyle Rinaudo (SFS ’18), a resident assistant in Village A, said that he and other resident assistants are considering options to combat litter in their residential blocks, including offering a program where RAs monitor waste and litter in each of the blocks and award prizes to the cleanest block on a monthly basis.
“We have started this new program this year called ‘Battle of the Blocks,’” Rinaudo said. “Every night the RA on duty would go back and look through how much trash is in each of the boxes publicly accessible, and then whoever the cleanest is at the end wins a prize.”
Rinaudo said the sustainability project aims to encourage residents to prevent litter from building up around apartments and provides an incentive to maintain cleanliness.
“The idea is that there are going to be these really good prizes and we want to make it so that it’s something that will really encourage people to think when they’re walking down these apartments, walking down in between blocks or outside doors,” Rinaudo said.
Until the university shifts its focus from waste management to on-campus litter control, Rinaudo said the onus is on students to keep the campus clean.
“Every student is expected to take ownership of their living space and clean up for themselves,” Rinaudo said.