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Dumpsters replace hall trash rooms

November 9, 2006

Walking up to Prucha Hall, individuals are now immediately met by four dumpsters — two in the center, slightly smaller for recycling, and two larger ones on each end. These receptacles have replaced trash rooms for some of the residence halls on campus.

The move took place last August, when cement was poured on the west end of campus in an attempt to increase safety conditions for the custodial staff, as well as deter pests in the buildings.

Dumpsters were placed outside of Johnson, for Johnson and Stratton Halls, and outside of Prucha, for Prucha and May Halls. This is just the first phase of getting rid of the trash rooms in all of the residence halls on campus.

The plan for this change began about 15 years ago, said Michael Stifter, director of Student Life Facilities. The initiative didn’t catch on for aesthetic reasons, but morale and safety issues brought the plan to the forefront.

The large amount of effort it takes to haul the trash receptacles up flights of stairs has been a major complaint of the custodial staff, Stifter said.

Students are also responsible for some maintenance— recycling representatives are students who are solely in charge of making sure that the recycling is taken care of.

On the east side of campus, this still means hauling large bins up stairs for collection. The physical toll taken on students is another primary concern.

Stifter said the physical requirement for lifting the totes is one of the most difficult aspects of the job.

Another big concern is the attraction of pests. Stifter said it hasn’t been a pressing problem and rodents have not been as great of a threat as insects, but it was still a concern that helped prompt the change.

While the changes were made with good intentions, they haven’t come without problems.

The major issue Stifter said he noticed with the new dumpsters was the quality of recycling at the beginning. Students were confusing the trash and recycling dumpsters, which caused contamination of the recycling.

For students, however, there seems to be a different concern with the new dumpsters.

“Right now they are an eyesore; they don’t make the campus look good,” said Johnson Hall resident Samantha Matti.  “It does make the basement smell better, but it still does not make the campus look good.”

Despite appearances, Prucha Hall Manager Rebecca Grossman said there have been no major problems in the halls, such as students leaving trash in hallways or bathrooms. 

Grossman has a much more positive attitude about the change.

“Students can toss their garbage on the way to class,” Grossman said. “It’s very convenient.”

The second phase of the process means moving the trash rooms in the east area residence halls and possibly Hathorn Hall next summer. Stifter said Residence Life will look at how well the dumpsters are received for the rest of this academic semester, using the west area halls as a trial.

“It’s been a very positive change,” Grossman said. “I hope the whole campus will be able to make the switch.”