Student-Run Campus Beautification Project Cleans Up After Your Parties

It’s no surprise that after a weekend of revelry, St. Mary’s campus could use a little bit of a clean-up. That’s the intention of Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful, a once-weekly beautification program which picks up trash around campus. All are welcome to attend the clean-ups, and the group meets up Sundays at 1 pm at the Campus Center patio.

According to senior Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, who runs Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful with Coordinator of Orientation and Service Programs Olusola Ogundele, ‘10, the program usually has about five to ten students come out to help clean up, and they end up filling up about eight to fifteen large trash bags.

Usually, the volunteers clean up around North Campus, where most of the partying occurs, but they also work on the Point and the Campus Center; unsurprisingly, most of the trash is comprised of alcoholic beverage cans around North Campus. However, a large portion of what they clean is to-go boxes, especially if the previous weekend’s weather has been nice, according to Ruthenberg-Marshall.

Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful originally started last fall headed by the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), but tapered off in the spring because of a lack of volunteers, said Ruthenberg-Marshall. However, according to Ogundele, the day after Orientation she was approached by President Joseph Urgo and Dean of Students Laura Bayless about beginning a student-run campus beautification program.

“Danny already had intentions of gathering a group of students to do campus clean-ups throughout the semester and we just joined forces from there,” said Ogundele. Their first clean up was Sunday, Sept. 18 and since then the group has met every Sunday except the Sunday before Reading Days and one weekend due to inclement weather.

First-year David Wood began attending the clean-ups in September and helps about every other week. “I’ve always been very concerned about the health of our environment, and we have a beautiful campus that I’d hate to see become run down,” he said.

“I definitely feel like we’re making a difference. After only about an hour of work, you notice a huge improvement in the cleanliness of the campus, which is so important considering our proximity to the river.”

Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful is looking to expand, primarily to cleaning up the areas around Parking Lot T and the roads, and to begin removing invasive species on campus and planting new, more environmentally-friendly plants.

According to Ogundele, Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful recently became the volunteer branch of the St. Mary’s Arboretum Committee. Lesley Urgo, who heads the Arboretum, said that Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful contacted her to take a tour of campus, where she indicated places where planting or other work might be beneficial.

“We really look forward to collaborating with them,” Urgo said. She also mentioned that when the Arboretum website is fully functioning, she plans on giving Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful a spotlight on the page.
Wood, who became involved through SEAC, commented on the significance of the program. “It is very important,” he said, “and [it] gives you a great sense of satisfaction knowing that you’re making a difference.”

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