It’s The Vaughn Center, Not a Trash Heap!

Having worked in the Vaughn Center for two years, Alison Mathe, Student Government president-elect, consistently sees a problem of excessive trash piling up in the building which is considered the center of campus. Serving as Director of Student Services last year, Mathe made it one of her goals to resolve the problem of the trashcans that cannot handle the amount of trash that is generated by the numerous dining options that are housed in the building.

It is often easy to confuse the Vaughn Center for a sterile lobby of a large office building, but it is actually the student union and the new geographic center of campus. While normal student unions are notorious for being littered with flyers for upcoming events and lively events put on by varying organizations, great steps are taken to make the Vaughn Center lobby devoid of any signs of being a student union.

Despite this desire to keep the Vaughn lobby in the finest shape, the University has failed when it comes to the tan trash receptacles that are abundant in number but constantly full of trash. Mathe says that the trash cans have been a problem since the Vaughn Center opened. Working at the desk, she receives constant complaints from students because the trash cans are not large enough to fit the sort of trash that students generate. Additionally, after students force their takeout boxes provided by the cafeteria into the very small openings on top, the trash begins to be crushed in and eventually falls out onto the floor.

Mathe added, ‘Aside from the fact they are constantly overflowing because students stick trash on top and around them, the trash cans are there because they are thought to be aesthetically pleasing, but they do a horrible job of adding to the aesthetics of the Vaughn Lobby when they are surrounded by trash and food containers.’

In her position last year, Mathe set out to create solutions to the problem. She took pictures, met with staff members about her concerns and even provided ideas for replacing the trash cans. Now, almost two academic years later, the problem remains to be solved. While facilities has made an effort to empty the trash cans more frequently, that does not solve Mathe’s main concern because the trashcans that are presently in the Vaughn Center do not satisfy the needs of the student,s and the trash they produce is too large for these containers. The real solution, Mathe believes, is purchasing new trash cans that are larger and actually fit the takeout boxes provided by the cafeteria.

While trashcans are not the number one priority for Mathe as she gets ready to lead Student Government and act as ‘a source of service’ for the student body, they are just one of the many aspects that she hopes to bring progress and change to at the University. She says, ‘I can’t imagine a better place to go to college, but there are always a few things that can be changed to make the college experience better.’

Although her efforts have so far been ignored by the University, Mathe frequently checks back to see what sort of progress has been made. Unfortunately, the answer she hears just about every time is, ‘We’re working on it.’ Providing trashcans that actually hold enough trash to last a weekend without overflowing is an important issue for Mathe because it makes the center of student life on this campus look like an eyesore and unsanitary. But is it really such a big deal for the University that a committee has to be formed to evaluate the status of the trashcans, then seek alternatives, then meet to vote on a satisfactory replacement and take nearly two years to reach any sort of solution?

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