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April 22, 2005 07:03 AM

Broken: Columbia University trash at library

Dsc01375Dsc01378Here are the steps of Columbia University's main library on April 6, 2005. Shouldn't an Ivy League school, in the middle of the school year, look a little different?

Clearly there was an event on the steps earlier in the day - it's unclear whether it was Columbia students or not who attended and left all the trash. It was strange, though, to see the students lounging around on the steps, in the middle of it all.

Final thought: remember that the ultimate beneficiaries of city garbage are sewer rats, which breed easily thanks to such "donations."

Update April 23: Thanks to the Columbia Spectator news staff for pointing me to their April 11 editorial on the incident. Turns out the garbage was left after the senior class's "annual drinkathon."


haha! i'm the first!

maybe their janitors are all at parties?

you'd think they would tell the janitors to clean up right away after something like that.

Posted by: Bob at April 22, 2005 07:11 AM

You'd think the students would take some pride in their school and pick it up. There are a bunch of students in the pictures, it probably wouldn't take them that long to just pick it up. If I got into a school like that, you better believe I'd be cleaning that crap up... I wouldn't want someone getting a bad impression about this great education I'm (supposed to be) getting because someone else didn't know how to clean up the library steps.

Posted by: sir_flexalot at April 22, 2005 08:08 AM

Hah! Yeah right! Students picking up trash? We barely have time to get to class and worry about our own trash than to pick someone else's trash up. Of course, I live at a school where the campus has a very good maintenance crew. But still, we students have a little bit more on our minds than "Hmmm, this place looks messy!"

Posted by: Andy Hoffman at April 22, 2005 09:39 AM

It's really messy, but I can tell you exactly what my reaction would have been, had I been a student there, which would have been twofold: 1) "Wow, this is really disgusting. Someone should clean it up!" and 2) "I didn't trash the place; I'm sure as heck not picking it up!"

I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of students apparently peacefully coexisting with the garbage share my #2 impression.

Posted by: Ex-Student at April 22, 2005 10:08 AM

The classic case was the Earth Day celebrations that left behind mountains of trash in its wake.

Posted by: Citizen Of Trantor at April 22, 2005 10:10 AM

Andy Hoffman:

Actually, most of the students look like their sitting around, and not worrying much about getting to class or anything else. So, hypothetically, they would have time to pick it up.

Posted by: a cheesepuff at April 22, 2005 10:18 AM

True, but I am going by my experience at my university, because I cannot read into what the students' thoughts are. They might have just got there and are planning to clean up the trash. Or maybe it is a psychological or sociological experiment.

Posted by: Andy Hoffman at April 22, 2005 10:24 AM

im more wondering about whats in those liquor bottle shaped paper bags on those steps....

Posted by: CarlWinslow at April 22, 2005 12:55 PM

I am currently taking a break from studying my butt off becouse final week is comming up. But these spoiled little brats don't appear to be studying too hard, so I don't know what is their excuse.

Posted by: Jeff at April 22, 2005 01:44 PM

I guess most of you are missing the point here. What's broken here is not the fact that the students or janitors have not cleaned those stairs, maybe the photos were taken just a couple minutes after the event finished. What is REALLY BROKEN is the fact that students at an elite college such as Columbia, lack the decency and education to take their garbage with them and leave this mess behind them. If they showed in the first place some decency and education to put their garbage in the right places for it, no clening would have been necesary at all.

Posted by: sam at April 22, 2005 02:11 PM

I'm with Sam on this one. What's broken is the universal assumption that it is SEP. Someone Else's Problem.

Why is it that kindergarten students can say "please" and "thank you" and clean up their own messes and then help others clean up messes that they didn't even help create, but college students can't be bothered? The first several reactions here are all "someone should do something about that."

Yeah, someone really should.

Posted by: Erich at April 22, 2005 02:45 PM

So at one of the more liberal universities in one of the more liberal cities in one oof the more liberal states we see the true manefestation of liberalism:

"What a sad mess, they [the lower class peons we hire to do our dirty work for us] should clean that up [for us the elite intelligencia who can afford to study here] right away [so that we can feel better about ourselves and how we have so much more on our minds than those peons]. We're too busy [scoring MDMA for tonight's Earth Day rave] to do it ourselves, so have the janitors [don't forget to raise their minimum wage and have welfare fill in the cracks so we don't feel so bad about having them do our scutwork] take care it it immediately. I can't believe someone [in an upper-class administrative position that we're paying six figures] hasn't gotten the maintenance crew on that yet."

Posted by: Hoki at April 22, 2005 02:58 PM

The students won't clean up the garbage because A. That would take effort B. It takes common sense and C. They don't really care. LOOK at the picture! Do they look like they care one iota? No. Sad but true...

Posted by: Chaos at April 22, 2005 02:59 PM

as a college grad, i was fortunate to attend a college that won multiple awards by the grounds staff on its meticulous care for the campus grounds and parks, sidewalks and TRASH SERVICE. i dont blame the students for not picking up the trash left behind after some event. that is what the GROUNDSKEEPERS job is for. that is what we pay tuition for. and for you to insist otherwise is just showing how dumb you really are.

Posted by: teri at April 22, 2005 07:57 PM

teri has a good point.

as long as the college students continue to litter, there will always be jobs for groundskeepers.

if the college kids could clean up their own trash....well i think there'd be a small spike in unemployment :P

Posted by: CarlWinslow at April 22, 2005 10:37 PM

If they can afford all that fancy inlay and stonework, you think they can afford to clean up the place, looks like a frat house, someone had a frat party in the library.

Posted by: simon at April 22, 2005 11:54 PM

teri -

Five points off for the annoying affectation of failing to capitalize the first letter of a sentence.

Five points off for the annoying affectation of failing to capitalize "I."

Five points off for failure to use an apostrophe for the possessive.

Five points off for failure to use an apostrophe for contractions.

Five points off for starting a sentence with the word "and."

Ten points off for an ad hominem attack irrelevant to the argument, and an extra five for the sheer irony of it.


Maybe that college should have worried more about educating its students about living and communicating in the real world and less about its grounds.

Personal responsibility surrenders.

Posted by: Hoki at April 23, 2005 12:57 PM

Yes, this is an elite school, and those who are there are elitists. Not only do they think their trash is invalable because they touched it, they feel they are above doing menial work becaus their brains are so valuable. I have met many of these folks, and find their politics, drug use, and other antics to be akin to this image. You won't see this at West Point!

Posted by: Robert at April 23, 2005 03:07 PM

how do we know the students made this mess?

Posted by: sam at April 23, 2005 04:01 PM

This school needs one of those propane torches:D

Posted by: unknown at April 23, 2005 04:03 PM

This is what happens when you spoil your children. "I didn't make the mess, why should I clean it up? There are people paid to do this!" As if those groundskeepers didn't have enough to do.

God forbid anyone should actually take pride and appreciate what they have. It doesn't matter if they made the mess or not, there is no way I could lounge around in a dump, pretending to be completely oblivious.

Couldn't possibly agree more with Hoki.

Posted by: Faolan at April 23, 2005 05:56 PM

_@_v - is that a backpack somebody left behind? hey! free backpack!

Posted by: shesnailie_@_v at April 23, 2005 06:12 PM

Mark's Sept 23 Update (see top of page for explanation and link--this is the fallout left after the annual "Drinkathon") makes Andy Hoffman's comments and teri's position especially laughable.

Hoki and Robert, on the other hand, are having their points proven for them.

Chalk up another vote in wholehearted agreement with the Columbia Spectator's editorial.

Posted by: Erich at April 24, 2005 03:13 PM

Ok, thats weird. And gross.

Posted by: Pip at April 24, 2005 05:54 PM

You do relize pride is one of the seven deadly sins ja?

Posted by: Picho at April 24, 2005 11:52 PM

Not exactly related to the above story, but when I was in the Navy stationed out on Midway Island, we had a FOD walkdown every Wednesday morning. FOD stands for "Foreign Object Damage". It refers to any small object that might be kicked up and sucked into a jet engine, damaging or destroying it. At other Naval Air facilities, they had street sweepers designed just for the task, which they would run over the runways & taxiways. But on Midway, we had no such equipment. So, for 1 hour every Wednesday morning, the 500 or so enlisted people on the island would walk their assigned areas looking for rocks or other objects.

Posted by: Gary Edstrom at April 25, 2005 09:06 AM

Perhaps an appreciation for tidiness in this case is simply a matter of pespective -- i.e. are the steps cleaner or messier than their dorm rooms? They are, after all, college students...

Posted by: Wurde at April 26, 2005 02:54 PM

Hey, it doesn't matter WHERE you go to school. If you manage to get to be a senior and have a school day to get DRUNK, you are not going to clean up after yourself. Its not sad, people learn responsibility when their are no janitors to clean up after them. Columbia should have had janitors out there at 6 AM just like NYC has clean up crews follow every parade in the city. C'mon, give the kids a freakin' break.

Posted by: Wild at April 26, 2005 03:30 PM

Please! All the people criticizing the kids for not picking up the Seniors' trash - would YOU really pick up all that crap? It wouldn't be a 10 second exercise. It took 2 janitors 4 hrs each! Sounds like some people are just jealous of Columbia students and looking to criticize unnecessarily.

What I think is funny is that the students don't mind sitting on the steps in the midst of all that trash. Do you mean to tell me there is no other place to sit? Goes to show, social graces (or lack thereof) have no socio-economic correlation.

Posted by: GetReal at April 26, 2005 04:02 PM

I do not take my comments back. I wonder if any of you would actually take the time to pick up the trash. Please, you know you would not do it. It is like when somebody asks you, "If you win the lottery, would you pay me a million dollars?" What would you say? Yes, of course. But when the time comes, I don't think you would actually follow through.

Posted by: Andy Hoffman at April 27, 2005 10:34 PM

Give the kids a break? College is a break. Get a real job and find out what life is about. Where I went to school there were no special days set aside to get drunk because everyday was a day to get drunk. However, you NEVER saw anything such as all that trash strewn about the campus. It may be the job of the groundskeepers to clean up the mess, but that amount if trash is a bit excessive.

Picho: Pride, as in being proud of something you are faithful too, have put a lot of work and/or effort into, or are happy about is not a sin. Being prideful to the point of arrogance, conceitedness, and egocentrism is the sin. Please make a valid point next time.

Posted by: Chaos at April 28, 2005 01:07 PM

Two things: 1# Pity the parents who paid for such a pricey education only to have their "Columbia University educated" Senior participating in a Drinkathon! And 2# Most of us (no matter the economic class we were raised in) learned where garbage went in the early years of grade school!

Posted by: J. Olsen at May 3, 2005 10:20 AM

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