By Milan Matthes Kale
Members of the AUC student body have been using their windows as a personal trash chute for their general trash – flowers, cigarettes, and even glass bottles. “There has always been a problem with people throwing things out of the dorm windows,” says Clare Adamson, a third-year Social Science major. While the littering out of dorm windows is not new, it does pose a serious health and environmental risk to the general community.
“The shattered glass is a really big issue for me,” Rasmus Raukas, a second-year Science major explains. “I pet sit and have friends who have dogs in the dorms, and in the furthest courtyard, where I live, it’s always a big concern that they may step on a shard of glass and cut themselves.”
However, the risk extends further than the paws of pets, as a bottle landing on a person below can cause serious injuries. Anna Micelli, a second-year Social Science major living in a four-person room on the 4th floor, explains how she has witnessed the glass bottles being thrown at parties. The view from her living room has let her witness more than one glass bottle being tossed out of the window into the parking lot below, where the falling glass poses a severe danger to people, bikes, and cars below.
For some AUC students, the fact that the courtyard and the area surrounding the dorms are already so dirty makes their contributions to the trash feel inconsequential. Tanmay Chawla, a third-year Social Science major, says that he used to occasionally throw cigarettes out of the window at parties and states that “to be fair it’s all just one big ashtray.”
While Adamson hopes that students “think about the environment,” she understands the feedback loop in which years of littering lower the appreciation of the nearby environment and normalize the behavior in new students.
The most common article to be thrown out the dorm window also greatly harms the environment: cigarette filters. Cigarette filters are one of the most littered items on the planet. Made out of plastic, they leach toxins into the environment before breaking down into microplastics, according to National Geographic.
Adamson believes that students often forget that cigarette filters are not biodegradable, but wishes that they remember that destroying our environment is a big deal, and each choice has an impact.
More often than not the people who end up cleaning up the mess are the building’s caretaker, Adel El-Sabagh, the dorms Custodial staff, and the occasional student-led initiatives.
Raukas was one of the students working to clean up the dorms in a student-led initiative last year. Although there have not been any cleaning initiatives this year, he still picks up glass when he sees it, protecting little paws. “It’s like a cycle where it gets really dirty, and then everyone gets fed up, cleans up, only for it to get dirty again,” Raukas says.