Inspired by recent recurring instances of garbage left strewn about Foss Hill, a new student group, the Foss Hill Preservation Society, started to promote awareness of the consequences of littering.
The circle of friends that composes the group began discussions last spring about forming a definitive movement, and the arrival of this year’s warmer weather reinvigorated its call to action. Dylan Nelson ’15 began the Foss Hill Preservation Society by circulating flyers and conferring over Facebook to find interested partners.
“At the moment, we’re more of a loose movement, and we think that raising awareness can just go a really long way,” explained member Madeleine Stern ’15.
Throughout the past couple of weeks, members of the group have noticed the incessant amount of garbage, mainly consisting of empty wrappers, beer cans, and bottles, scattered along the hill.
“I was just sitting on Foss the past few weekends watching it just get gross with people leaving all of their trash up there,” Nelson said. “Mostly it’s recycling that’s the issue, with people leaving all of their bottles and cans at the top.”
Members of the group recognize that the lack of visible trashcans contributes to the issue, but they believe that does not excuse littering.
“The two bins up near the observatory are the only ones people would probably use, and since they’re pretty far back, nobody pays attention to them,” Nelson explained. “People just let their trash go, and it gets gross. I don’t know how people just walk away.”
The society’s message is that people should exercise common sense and pick up after themselves.
“It’s just common decency,” said member Reid Hildebrand ’15. “People should just watch out for themselves and for the community. It’s really not that hard, and it really comes down to being mindful of what you’re doing.”
According to Stern, the aggregation of litter gives off an unpleasant image of University students and poses a potentially dangerous health risk.
“A lot of the beer and bottled trash is not only gross, but also hazardous,” Stern said. “People come from the surrounding community and bring their dogs and kids, and there is broken glass all over Foss, which is totally unacceptable.”
The group posted flyers around campus, hoping to convince more people to contribute by advising others not to litter and to collect any trash that they find. The members plan to communicate with the Wesleyan Student Assembly to find potential solutions for more accessible recycling receptacles around the hill area.
“People do not go to other places on campus and just throw trash everywhere,” said member Peter Helman ’15. “It really shouldn’t be an unobtainable goal to have people not dump trash on the grass. It just seems ridiculous to me.”
According to Nelson, the reputation of social-mindedness commonly associated with University students is contradicted by the nonchalant trashing of a popular campus attraction.
“People are really concerned with a wide variety of issues like race issues and the environment,” said Nelson. “No one seems to really care about an immediate issue affecting both our campus and surrounding Middletown community. It really shouldn’t be a problem in the first place.”
University students have demonstrated their concerns regarding renewable energy and other environmental issues through a variety of efforts, including the establishment of the Wesleyan Green Fund in 2010, which supports the University’s sustainability initiatives by providing financial support.
“A dirty Foss conflicts with [the] ‘green attitude’ that Wesleyan vanguards,” explained member Harim Jung ’16. “It doesn’t make sense to me how we can litter the very hill that we have the ‘Feet to the Fire’ rally on during orientation. Littering is an unhealthy habit that creates a hypocritical and negative image of the student body to the Wesleyan community, as well as the greater Middletown [area].”
For now, the Foss Hill Preservation Society intends to continue its campaign by spreading awareness through flyers and social media.
“All it takes is to clean up after yourself—if each individual took part, we could really make a difference,” Jung said.