Littering at Science Leadership Academy has always been a problem. Our blatant pollution could be from a lack of consequences and a relaxed disciplinary system. Visitors to the school can see the trash and it also poses a problem of hygiene when pests like rats and cockroaches are roaming the halls.
We might be able to attribute this problem to SLA’s fundamental rules, or lack thereof. If SLA was to implement stricter rules, though, the whole culture of the school would change. Our teachers are aware of this, but they wanted to cultivate an environment where students would govern themselves.
Classrooms at SLA stay cleaner because teachers impose consequences. Math Teacher Erin Garvey, for example, reminds her classes every day to clean up their trash or their eating privileges will be taken away. In hallways there is no one to hold students accountable. Also, when students see cleaning staff, they make the assumption that they will clean up our trash.
Since we aren’t going to add rules, and we can’t add staff to police the halls, what do we do?
Previous attempts to curb littering were proactive campaigns and friendly reminders. Senior Chelsea A. Smith’s campaign last year spread awareness about litter by putting up stickers in problem areas proclaiming “Litter Free Zone.” Principal Lehmann’s most recent attempt was a frustrated plea over the loudspeaker to stop leaving lunch areas like landfills. These were short lived, but brought the issue into light.
SLA’s most recent idea, the space adoption program, takes a reactive approach. Instead of trying to prevent litter, we have created a system for cleaning it up on a schedule. You may have noticed the plaques hanging around the halls and stairwells claiming these spaced being owned by an advisory. People are skeptical about the future, and impact of this program, due to it’s inactivity since it’s announcement at the beginning of the year.
The SLAMedia staff has two ideas of their own:
– Have the janitors not pick up our trash and let us deal with the consequences of having a dirty school
– Hold the whole school accountable: for every day a space is dirty, don’t let students eat lunch there the next day.
We have a strong sense of community, but in this area we are lacking. It is expected that many students will reject our suggestions because they don’t want to be responsible for other people’s trash. This might feel uncomfortable, but these are necessary measures to take before it gets worse.
Unsigned editorials are written and approved by the SLAMedia Editorial Staff. They do not reflect the opinion of Science Leadership Academy and its employees.