Landscapers pay for students’ carelessness

Few people know what PSU’s 12 landscaping employees really do with their time.

“We mow lawns, plant, weed, renovate areas,” landscaping supervisor Melissa DeYoung said. “But the biggest responsibility is picking up garbage. About half of Landscaping Service employees spend time picking up garbage … and cigarette butts.”

Landscapers collect litter every morning between 6 and 9 a.m. Many of them are frustrated with students’ carelessness.

“There’s so many things we never get to,” De Young continued. “The things we really want to do we just don’t get time to do, like renovating less attractive areas on campus.”

DeYoung doesn’t believe she can do anything to stop people from littering.

“We could put a trashcan every two feet, and people would still throw garbage on the ground,” she said.

“I’ve literally watched people throw a cigarette down when they’re sitting next to an ashtray.”

One employee, Wesley Eversole, recalls watching a woman shred an ATM receipt and toss it right next to a garbage can. The employee politely addressed the woman.

“I asked her, ‘Would you mind picking that up?’ She answered, ‘What would you do on campus if I picked it up?'”

Not wanting to argue, Eversole quietly picked up the pieces of paper for her.

Employees understand that nobody intends harm by littering.

Bruce suggested holding a “Debris Day” on campus as a means of making students aware of the consequences of littering. She proposed that students gather once a month to collect campus litter. But for the time being, students can help out by simply paying more careful attention to disposing of their own garbage.

Since July 1, Landscape Services has spent $18,057 on collecting debris, removing graffiti and cleaning other human waste particles.

“(The money spent on cleaning people’s mess) is too big a portion,” DeYoung said.

Everyone would benefit from less money spent cleaning campus. Smaller landscaping expenditures would increase the budget of the Facilities Department.

“It could mean rooms getting painted. It could mean heaters being fixed,” DeYoung said.

As a Community Development major, Eversole understands the far-reaching implications of student actions.

“People should see how their actions affect everybody,” he said.