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February 21, 2017

UMass Greek Life turns out to clean up local streets

Flickr/louisbickett

The University of Massachusetts Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils have begun a project to clean up the streets of Amherst for residents by picking up trash on the weekends.

Initially proposed by Amherst town officials, the project hopes to build the relationship between students and town residents by providing community service, a main objective of several of the involved groups.

In total, 23 fraternities and sororities have committed to the effort, and have created seven different groups that have taken to local streets, such as Sunset Avenue and Phillips Street, to pick up trash.

The streets’ clean-up flier expresses that the project is just as much about displaying students’ faces and the organization’s letters to the town in a positive manner as it is about actually cleaning the town streets. The project is part of an ongoing effort to improve the image and reputation of both the University and its Greek Life component among Amherst’s permanent residents.

The groups of students started their project on April 7. According to Alex Cembalisty, a sophomore turfgrass management major, member of Alpha Tau Gamma and President of the Interfraternity Council, the first weekend was considered a success. Cembalisty said UMass students filled 40 bags of trash, much of which seemed to have been on the ground for a long period of time.

“This idea was brought up by the town, and we just decided to take the next steps ourselves to make it happen,” Cembalisty said. “So far, we have gotten a great response from the town, we have been thanked by people in the neighborhoods we clean (and) they just enjoy it. We want to continue to do this.”

The groups set out to clean the town again on April 21. While there were a few fraternities and sororities missing from the pick-up, UMass Greek Life still came out in large numbers and completed its task within an hour. Despite the litter, consisting mostly of solo cups and empty cans, the clean-up crews noticed significantly less trash compared to their last outing. Alpha Tau Gamma and Phi Gamma Delta were responsible for cleaning Sunset Avenue, and after 45 minutes the street had been cleared. The students also cleaned trash in front of Sunset Farm and a local church, which drew thanks from members of the community.

Lambda Phi Epsilon, which brought the largest contingent on the second day, was dispersed to Phillip Street. Despite being deemed one of the messiest areas near campus, the fraternity quickly cleaned the area before most of the community was ready to start its day.

Phi Gamma Delta member and junior sports management major Tim Silvernail described the Sunday clean-up, saying, “changing the perception of Greek Life and giving back to the community is huge for us.”

“Greeks make up more than six percent of the University and creating these town and campus relationships is crucial to our success for today and (in) the future as this campus continues to grow,” Cembalisty said. “This is just one way we are responding to help out this beautiful town that we all call home.”

Despite the initial results of the project, it has yet to be decided whether or not the program will continue next semester.

Brian Bevilacqua can be reached at bbevilac@student.umass.edu.

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