Access vs. sustainability leaves students frustrated when handling garbage


Photo by Kate Furr

by Evan Burley, Staff Reporter

When first-years and members of Greek Life returned to campus from winter break, a noticeable change waited for them: missing garbage bins.

During winter break, garbage bins were removed from greek houses and first-year residential buildings. Concerns about the removal of trash bins were raised in a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting held on Jan. 20.

In a Jan. 15 housing update email from the dean of students Luke Behaunek, trash and recycling from affected students’ building must now be taken to the designated areas. Outdoor options include recycling and trash containers placed outside of residence buildings, or the large dumpsters found in the parking lots on campus. Smaller bins can still be found in restroom and lounge areas.

According to Morris, members of SGA and the campus sustainability club have advocated for and supported the decision to remove trash bins. The goal is to increase sustainability on campus and better the recycling practices of students.

“When the trash is right there in front of you,” Morris said, “it’s less likely that you’re going to separate out your recycling and take the recycling outside when you could just put it in the trash can inside. Our hope was that by putting them [trash and recycling] on equal footing, people would be more likely to use the recycling that we have available and recycle things that are going into the trash right now.”

First-year Scott Krueger, the house manager and alumni development officer for Lambda Chi Alpha (Lambda), attended the meeting. For him, the perfect alternative solution would involve hiring more custodians and providing both recycling and trash closets to all residential areas.

“Of course we don’t live in a perfect world,” Krueger said. “As a house manager, I can set up a schedule for who takes out the trash on each floor every week or every day. I just need the trash cans to do it. Frankly, I don’t know where those trash cans have ended up. But I’d like them back.”

According to assistant director of residence life Elyse Morris, removing the garbage bins will help custodial staff on campus, whose work has increased since Simpson College reopened in fall 2020.

“If you think about the trash closets on every level of every building, there’s a good amount of work represented there to empty those out daily or maybe even twice a day sometimes,” Morris said. “During COVID-19, custodians are doing extra disinfecting of different areas, and often we’re asking them to clean isolation and quarantine spaces after they’ve been used.”

In response to concerns about the accessibility of dumpsters, Morris noted procedures are in place to assist students who have any type of accessibility issue. Students in need of long solutions are housed in first-floor locations to avoid stairs. Students in need of short term solutions are temporarily moved to spaces that are easier to navigate and are encouraged to speak with their CA. Morris also encouraged students with additional concerns to reach out to her at [email protected].