Cleaning Springs Into Action

College Clean Up prepares the campus for the spring season.
College Clean Up prepares the campus for the spring season.

After a long winter, members of SUNY New Paltz’s faculty and students will come out of hibernation ready to pick up garbage and recyclables around  campus.

According to Assistant Vice President for Administration and Finance Michele Halstead, they are not doing this just for the sake of the campus’ appearance.

“It’s about campus pride and really making a commitment to the place we live,” Halstead said. “I [also] thought it would be nice to say to our maintenance staff that we appreciate the work that [they] do every day.”

The College Clean Up event, which was founded by Halstead, is implementing its fourth annual campus-wide clean up to prepare for the spring season, on March 30.

Some members of the college clean-up committee include Executive Director of Campus Auxiliary Services Steve Deutsch,  the Director of Facilities Operations Brian Pine and the Dean of the School of Business Hadi Salavitabar.

Halstead said she came up with this idea in 2008 while she was walking across the campus to a meeting with former President Steven Poskanzer and Assistant Vice President for Facilities John Shupe. While they were walking from JFT to HAB one of them picked a cigarette-butt up off the ground and dumped it into a trash can. Halstead thought that this would be a great idea to get faculty and staff to go out and clean the campus.

Halstead said the overall plan for this year’s event will be a lot like in years’ prior. Everyone participating in College Clean Up will meet in Student Union 62/63 where they will receive raffle tickets and be broken up into groups. Refreshments are also provided in the conference room.

“We hand out bags, gloves and [garbage] ‘grabbers,’” said Pine.

College Clean Up occurs before Accepted Students Day, a day when admitted students visit the SUNY New Paltz campus before they decide whether or not they want to enroll. Pine then sends the College Clean Up groups to those parts of the campus for about an hour.

“This is similar to our own homes where every member of the family is supposed to clean up after him/herself even though the house gets clean by the parents and somebody on a regular basis,” Salavitabar said. “I believe our College Clean Up day brings our campus family together.”

After picking up litter for an hour, participants leave the bags on the side of the road for the “ground folks” to pick up. The groups then return to the conference room for refreshments and raffle off T-shirts and baseball caps, Halstead said.

This year, more than 100 faculty members and students are expected to participate in the  College Clean Up.

“Last year’s College Clean Up sign-up sheet was well over 100 [participants],” said Halstead. “A lot of FirstYear Initiative students participate to get credit for community service and many athletes came out to clean up the athletic field.”

The event has grown a lot since its inception in 2008. The first annual College Clean Up event was on a weekend. That event only garnered 50 participants because many faculty members were not on campus and many students were probably still asleep from the night before, Halstead said.  Since then, the College Clean Up  has been moved to Wednesdays because faculty would be on campus and most students did not have classes on that day.

Halstead said last year’s College Clean Up day was the “best day to be out on campus.” There were also student tours going on, as well as baseball games.

The event is not affiliated with RecycleMania, Halstead said. However, committee members Pine and Kim Welson, the assistant director facilities operations, are heavily involved with RecycleMania.

According to Pine, RecycleMania is a recycling tournament between colleges and universities across the United States.

In RecycleMania, “results are measured and compared to other schools,” Pine said. “[College Clean Up] is a college-sponsored event.”

Salvitabar said the College Clean Up committee have established a tradition on the SUNY New Paltz campus and they hope it continues.

“I hope this event and tradition continues well beyond 10 years from now and into perpetuity,” Salavitabar said. “I will do my best to participate in it while I am here and after I retire.”