Trashy Tables. . . or Trashy Attitude?: by Eve Brown-Ryder and Paige Graziano

 

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It isn’t a secret that Memorial doesn’t have the cleanest cafeteria, and a lot of it is to be expected. Dirt on the floors tracked in from the outside, the occasional stray baby carrot or grape that falls to the floor, but the most noticeable and preventable part is the tables. When kids eat lunch a large fraction of them don’t clean up after themselves, and here’s what their fellow students have to say about it:

“It makes me so mad,” says a sophomore here at Memorial, “because most of the kids, specifically those who leave their trash behind, aren’t even phased by it. It’s literally half-eaten food that the janitors have to pick up and throw out daily. It’s so gross, too, because sometimes not all of the trash gets picked up and kids in the next lunch period have to pick it up and throw it away or deal with a pile of trash in the center of their table.”

So obviously, the tables make some students angry, and it’s not an invalid feeling to have. The students at Memorial shouldn’t settle for gross, and they shouldn’t be the source of it either. It isn’t the job of other students, teachers, or even janitors to clean up the lunch mess of the students who don’t care enough to clean up after themselves.

As a school, we not only get a reputation from our academics, but we also get our reputation from our visual appearance. It may not seem like a big deal that kids can’t be bothered to pick up their empty lunch trays or half-eaten apples, but it has an impact on how we are viewed as a school and as a student body.

“The tables are trashed, but I wouldn’t expect any less from high school students, especially Memorial students,” says a freshman who sits at one of the trashed tables.

Especially Memorial students? Is that really the way that we want to be viewed? Probably not. When interviewed, one of the cafeteria advisors expressed appall towards this viewpoint and the filth of the lunchroom tables in general. She claimed that we should, “have pride of where we go to school,” rather than claiming that the apathy towards the trash on tables is just another part of being a Manchester student. She also expressed her displeasure towards the system of picking up trash as punishment. Though that system is beneficial, she brought up a very valid viewpoint; if students are punished by picking up trash, other students begin to think that picking up trash is a punishment, and not just another part of taking care of your school. All in all, the interview was helpful towards understanding the problem, but still leaves us with a few sizable questions. Why do students continue to ignore this problem, even though it has become clear they recognize it, and what can we do to solve this problem once and for all?

The issue, in general, seems to be more deep-rooted than not picking up trash, and more rooted within people’s view of our school. That being said, there are undoubtedly students who are plain lazy, but clearly there is a pattern here. The answer lies not within forcing everyone to pick up trash, but within making people more proud of their school and their school’s image, compelling them to pick up trash. If everyone continues to view our school as a dumpster, and as a result trash it, or fail to pick up others trash, the problem will only get worse. There is a deficiency of school pride here, and the problem only gets worse as others trash our school making it even less to proud of within the eyes of our students. What’s next? Throwing our trash in the hallways? Running around destroying property? This is a huge issue, and the trash left on the lunch tables has proven to be an indication of this problem.

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