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Oh, the Cleaners Will Get That

Monday, Sep. 12, 2011

Best Student Comment Wins a $50 Amazon gift card. Responses must be received by midnight, September 12, 2011

Mike is new to the Bike Club on campus and the first meeting just finished. As members start shuffling out of the room, Mike notices no one picks up the trash. Mike starts to gather plates, cups, and napkins and throw them away.

The president of the Bike Club, Tom, says, “Oh, the cleaners will get that.” Do students have a responsibility to clean up after themselves? Or is it not that important since the University pays people to clean?


Here are some resources you may find useful:

 A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

Staff Perspective on College Behavior 

Civility at Rutgers


Photo by r_melgaresavailable under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

Comments Comments

JP Allport said on Sep 12, 2011
The janitors are professionals who manage the cleaning process in private businesses and public buildings. However, we should not take that definition too directly. Cleaning up after ourselves seems like such a simple task that most of us take it for granted. But more and more I'm discovering messes everywhere& in the library, at the coffee shop or grocery store, beaches, etc. Yes, many places do hire people to keep these areas in good condition, but they are hired for upkeep and maintenance, not to clean up your mess. Something as simple as throwing away a gum wrapper instead of tossing it on the floor can make a big difference. Even though it is a busy world, and we all have reasons to rush here and there, but cleaning up after ourselves is a great way to reduce clutter and attain a sense of peace and closure. Plus it leaves the area nice and clean, offering a fresh start for the next person& who just might happen to be you! Next time you see the janitor or the custodian, greet them and make them feel welcomed. Doing that can really make someone feel respected and appreciated. Janitors are really are the people who know everything that's going on in a business, and they can make your life so much easier. - Like - 3 people like this.
Cameron said on Sep 16, 2011
Tom's mentality drives me crazy. How hard is it to clean up a mess? Time yourself next time; I'm not lying. It takes one person maybe two seconds to pick up his own trash. It takes one cleaner half an hour to pick up 40 peoples' trash and clean the room. The janitor has more important things to do and very little time to do them. And keep in mind that he is also probably paid very little. I'm sure if you were making $9 an hour to clean puke stains out of the bathrooms, you would not appreciate it if some brat kid left all his trash for you to pick up. Have a little empathy. Step into the cleaner's shoes for a second and try to realize how selfish you are being before you leave your mess for someone else. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Deepti said on Sep 16, 2011
The only place it's okay not to clean up after yourself is in your own home, IF you live alone or your roommates don't mind living in a sty. Custodial staff in colleges are hired to do heavy duty cleaning, not to run around picking up after spoiled students. If you're looking for a personal assistant, you should hire one. It's not like the cleaners get paid extra for taking on the additional work of throwing away people's garbage. It just becomes another thing they have to do in addition to the hard work of cleaning heavily trafficked areas. Think about how you might feel if a professor suddenly decided to assign a whole lot of additional homework that didn't contribute anything to your grade, but which would hurt your grade if you didn't do it. There is no reason to make additional work for already overworked people when you can easily lighten their load by taking responsibility for your own belongings, including your garbage. - Like - 2 people like this.
David DeCosse said on Sep 16, 2011
The drama of life and death  the hustle to survive and feed your family  usually intrudes no closer to most American college campuses than the nearest Home Depot, where day laborers bear the stares of passersby and the hot sun while they wait for hours for a job. There is an educational cost to the distance of this drama: A college education can be an exercise in book-learning at the expense of an engagement with the needs of the world. There is also a moral cost to this distance: The prosperity that permits the rich experience of American higher education also masks the labor and sweat that helps make this experience possible. Tom is stuck in the blindness of this prosperity, refusing to see his own responsibility to clean up after himself and callous about leaving to someone else's labor the mundane, distasteful task he should be doing for himself. Two percent of the world has a college education. That fact could be a spur to extend the benefits of college more broadly. Or it could be the occasion of retreat behind the wall of self-deception that accompanies privilege. - Like - 1 person likes this.
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