UC Student End-of-Year Clean-Up Gets Mixed Reviews

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday June 01, 2007

The biggest weekend of the UC Berkeley move-out is over. Students have emptied their dorms for the summer. This year for the first time they had the option of dispensing their trash in allocated dumpsters instead of dumping it on the sidewalk. 

While the university called the clean-up campaign, organized by the university and the city, a success, others viewed the process as mixed. The city of Berkeley contributed a third of the $30,000 price tag for the clean-up effort. 

“The American Cancer Society collected the clothes and the rest were donated to Goodwill,” said Irene Hegarty, director of community relations for UC Berkeley. “Uhuru House picked up the furniture and the Alameda Computer Resource Center took anything that had a plug. Anything that couldn’t be recycled ended up in the Transfer Station at Gilman Street. Urban Ore helped to sort out stuff there.” 

Hegarty added that a few more debris bins had been put out Wednesday to help students who would be moving out of private apartments in the next couple of days. 

“If there’s one thing I would do differently next year,” she said, “it would be to run the recycling center in a place other than the parking lot of the Clark Kerr campus. We need a parking area that’s more visible so that we can monitor people when they throw illegal waste such as cement and other toxic stuff into the dumpsters.” 

Hegarty said that when students dug into the 12-feet-long and four-feet-wide bins to look for things they could scavenge, they often ended up leaving stuff on the sidewalk. 

“As a result, we had to clean up after them,” she said. “We need to hold a campaign to educate the frats and sororities that dumping is illegal and that their habits need to change.” 

Berkeley Councilmember Kris Worthington—who initiated the clean-up campaign and helped secure $10,000 from the City Council for the process—said that the city looked “somewhat clean.” 

“I received angry emails from people who called the so-called hotline to report dumping and didn’t get called back for days and days,” he said. “Secondly, it’s wonderful that we have those big bins, but one of the problems is that the box gets overflilled and the trash ends up on the sidewalk. We need to make sure that we follow up and see that the dumpsters are empty.” 

Worthington added that the outreach had to be improved. 

“A lot of people haven’t heard about it except from me,” he said. “The flyers that went out to students did not have the hotline numbers on them. However, in spite of all the glitches, I think it’s still a success. Given the failure of the university to curb this problem in the past, it was important that the city put money and time into this to help.” 

UC Berkeley student and ZAB commissioner Jesse Arreguin applauded the city for the success of the campaign. 

“The city deserves all the appreciation,” he said. “And really, the university should pay for the whole thing.” 

Jill Lefebvre and Mert Yazicioglu, residents of Tau House, were two UC Berkeley students who had no clue about the clean-up campaign. 

“Do we think Frat Row is cleaner because of it?” asked Lefebvre. “No!” he said pointing to a broken couch lying outside one of the frat houses on College and Channing Way on Wednesday. 

As of Thursday morning, the Planet spotted a mattress, two desks and several broken couches along Channing Way. Broken furniture was also spotted in an alley outside the Delta Chi frat house. 

Alan Lightfeldt, a Spring 2007 graduate, said he had left a broken lamp inside a dumpster on the corner of Carleton and Ellsworth. 

“I used the dumpster simply because it was so close and easy to use,” he said. “From the amount of stuff that was overflowing from each dumpster, I’d say the drive was pretty effective, but I did still see some trash on some streets. Southside for the most part looked a lot cleaner than in previous years, but the drive definitely needs more publicity.” 

According to Hegarty, the worst dumping happened in the LeConte and Willard neighborhoods. 

“We received a lot of calls from residents on Piedmont and College and Ellsworth and Parker,” she said. “I am positive there are some frats nearby that are responsible. Once we find the source, we will be able to solve the problem easily.”