[STAFF EDITORIAL]: One student’s trash is no one’s treasure

PICK+IT+UP.+Most+students+will+effortlessly+offer+a+%E2%80%9Cthank+you%2C+%E2%80%9C+to+lunch+staff+every+day+while+still+neglecting+to+keep+the+areas+the+lunch+staff+works+in+clean.+Picking+up+trash+requires+little+more+effort+than+this+simple+expression+of+gratitude+in+the+lunchroom%2C+but+in+the+case+of+trash%2C+students+are+not+confronted+directly+with+the+person+who+is+responsible+for+cleaning+up+after+them.+If+you+really+want+to+show+gratitude%2C+show+your+appreciation+verbally+but+also+through+recognizing+the+effects+of+your+actions.+

Kevin Chen

PICK IT UP. Most students will effortlessly offer a “thank you, “ to lunch staff every day while still neglecting to keep the areas the lunch staff works in clean. Picking up trash requires little more effort than this simple expression of gratitude in the lunchroom, but in the case of trash, students are not confronted directly with the person who is responsible for cleaning up after them. If you really want to show gratitude, show your appreciation verbally but also through recognizing the effects of your actions.

While walking through the upper school facilities, it’s not uncommon to see trash lying around on tables and chairs. Although it’s been said many times before and it will in all likelihood be said again, trash left around common areas of the school is an issue and it needs to stop. Not only does it reflect poorly on the student body, but it creates more work for the hardworking employees in charge of keeping common areas clean. While writing about the need for cleanliness is an excellent starting point, students must carry the burden of cleaning up after themselves. Messages like these can only go so far.

Why should we care about cleanliness? To state the obvious, leaving a mess is disrespectful to the service workers. However, it is also indicative of a deeper irony in the way students treat school employees. Most students will effortlessly offer a “thank you, “ to lunch staff every day while still neglecting to keep the areas they work in clean. Picking up trash requires little more effort than this simple expression of gratitude in the lunchroom, but in the case of trash, students are not confronted directly with the person who is responsible for cleaning up after them. If you really want to show gratitude, show your appreciation verbally but also through recognizing the effects of your actions.

This, after all, is what learning the skills of empathy and awareness are all about. It’s unarguable that it’s easier to pick up after yourself when you can see directly how it will affect someone else, but that doesn’t negate self responsibility. The process of learning is not an excuse for the disrespectful nature of leaving a mess around for someone else to pick up. In the real world there are always certain things expected of certain people and taking responsibility for your own actions and impacts is an expectation of everyone that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Additionally, students at SPA are privileged to have incredibly high quality academic facilities. With this comes the responsibility to recognize this privilege and at the very least respect facilities by keeping them clean.

The “picking up trash,” argument may seem childish, and it certainly isn’t glamorous, but in reality, it’s necessary to combat a disrespectful practice that still permeates the Upper School. Moreover, it’s a responsibility at the bottom of a very tall, complex, pyramid of how to carry yourself throughout the world as a respectful, responsible human being. SPA prides itself on our exceptional student body intellect, but it must not be forgotten that there is more to becoming a good person than academics. Respect for others and self awareness is one of the most important skills to be learned.

So next time you say thank you to a member of our hardworking staff, think about what actions can accompany your words. Be aware, think about your impact and more importantly, of all the people who might be responsible for your mess down the line. Everyone can do better.