Hot take: Clean up after yourself

It should be common sense


(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

By Ana Pietrewicz, Collegian Columnist

What’s your least favorite thing about living at the University of Massachusetts? It’s hard to choose but in my opinion, the thing that beats out the watery lemonade at Berkshire Dining Commons and the constantly late buses is my very own Pierpont communal bathroom. I can’t complain too much; I do love a lot of things about UMass. It’s hard to remember how I survived before I had croissants from People’s Organic in my life. But it’s also kind of disgusting to walk into my floor’s communal showers and find used menstrual products on the ground.

This has actually happened to me. Twice.

Blood and other bodily fluids are commonplace in the bathrooms, and on more than one occasion I’ve walked in and almost stepped in vomit. I can’t be too mad about the regurgitation, because sometimes it just happens. I get that. Honestly, I can’t even be mad about the wads of hair that are constantly in the shower drains. It happens to the best of us.

What I do take issue with is when I see things that should be in the toilet smeared all over the walls of the stall on a daily basis. Didn’t anybody learn where those things go? No? Just me?

Any self-respecting college student should know how to use the bathroom in a responsible way. But it’s not just the bathrooms: Residence halls have seen complaints of cockroaches. Tables at the dining halls are often left covered in food or dishes, and it’s not uncommon to see Juul pods and Natty Light cans decorating the sidewalks and the lawns after a particularly rowdy night, adding to the usual litter scattered around.

You may be wondering, hey Ana, what’s the point of this article? Are you just going to complain about how messy UMass can be? In short, yes.

UMass feels like home to a lot of people – as it should. It’s a great community of people on a beautiful campus, and it should be treated as such.

I’m the first to admit that the dorms aren’t always great, but with what we pay for them ($3,534 per semester for a standard double room to be exact), the buildings should be treated with a little more respect. You have to remember that other people live in the hall with you too. The Southwest Residential Area alone houses around 5,500 undergrads and, on a smaller scale, most of those of us who live on campus live with at least one other person – if not two or three other people – in a 15-by-11 foot box.

You may think you’re the most important person in the world, but I promise you’re not. Other students pay just as much as you do to live here, and those other students might not want to look at the contents of your stomach smeared all over the stall. When you disrespect your living space, you disrespect the living space that you share with so many other students – not to mention the maintenance and cleaning workers who have to clean up your mess. “But it’s their job!” you whine, trying to justify your horrible hygiene and living habits. The harsh truth is that it’s not their job to clean up the festering remnants of your night out from the bathrooms and the sidewalks. They aren’t your personal maids, and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

At this point, some of you are probably assuming I’m a clean freak germaphobe nut who wigs out when someone so much as sneezes within a 15-foot radius of me. I’m not. In fact, you should see all the empty water bottles in my dorm. I’m just of the opinion that since most UMass students are legal adults, we should be able to clean up after ourselves without issue. It can be difficult to live on your own for the first time, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t pick up your trash, or at least kind of try to aim for the toilet when expelling bodily fluids.

I’m not asking for you to dive into the campus pond to retrieve all the litter or spend a week scraping gum off the benches outside of the library. Just take 20 minutes out of your allotted daily Netflix binge time to pick up the mess you created and help create a better living space for not only yourself, but your fellow students.

Ana Pietrewicz is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]