In The News
CCSU Clean-Up Crew featured in New Britain Herald, May 19
Posted 05/22/2012 02:15PM
CCSU students make effort to clean up campus
Saturday, May 19, 2012 10:21 PM EDT
By Liz Newberg
NEW BRITAIN — The image of “Animal House” might conjure up fond memories of college days or, depending on the view point, rage at disrespectful college students. But one Central Connecticut State University student, well aware of the rocky relationship between students and residents, is hoping to change that “Animal House” image.
Steven Monteiro, a junior from New Milford, said he saw first-hand the frustration that exists between college students wanting to party with friends and the neighborhoods surrounding the campus being angry at the noise and mess.
While understanding that students have to do community service for underage drinking, Monteiro said seeing how prosecutors make students do community service anywhere as long as it’s at a nonprofit gave him an idea.
Working with Town and Gown, a collaborative effort between CCSU officials and the city, Monteiro’s idea stemmed from his being tired of seeing all the garbage on his way to school, much of it remnants from late night off-campus parties. With Town and Gown support, he was given the means to organize a voluntary, student-led clean-up effort for the campus and surrounding neighborhoods.
Called the CCSU Clean-up Crew, the group’s first forays into rubbish removal were a resounding success. A crew of about 15 volunteer students hauled more than 20 full 42-gallon garbage bags. Armed with gloves, rakes, shovels and a wheelbarrow, they found everything from a couch to a washing machine to hubcaps among the dumped items.
Their efforts are not going unnoticed by CCSU officials. On May 7, the Town and Gown committee presented Monteiro with an award recognizing his efforts at community building.
Monteiro planned his clean-up runs strategically after the two biggest party nights at the university. Groups head out Friday and Sunday afternoons to do their rounds, recording the damage so they can better respond to hot spots sustaining the most damage.
Jonathan Pohl, coordinator of alcohol and drug education at CCSU, said the college junior is leading an extremely positive movement and, using social media, has built up an organization with more than 90 members in just a few weeks. “Students want to have a good time and unfortunately because someone is shouting out in the street at 2 or 3 in the morning, everybody hears that,” Pohl said. “They often don’t see the other students trying to do positive things.”
Monteiro said he plans to expand his clean-up effort next year. He is scheduled to present it at freshman orientation stressing the importance of respecting the neighborhoods that surround CCSU.
New Britain Mayor Timothy O’Brien is also a member of the Town and Gown committee and said he’s impressed Monteiro took the initiative to help build positive relations and with the neighborhood. However, there are issues that need to be addressed.
“I think we need to make sure on the other end of the coin that students know that we really are not going to tolerate this behavior in our neighborhoods and if there are problem properties where students live we are going to pretty aggressively address those,” the mayor said.
City police also have a presence on Town and Gown and police Chief William Gagliardi said the committee is an excellent way to help ensure effective policing.
“Communication with the community is absolutely paramount,” Gagliardi said. “You can do a lot of work, but if it’s not work that the people care about, then you don’t bring resolution to the complaints. At the same time we get to hear what the university is doing. If there are new or re-occurring problems, we need to hear about those before they get completely out of hand. Students understand the university, community and the city are working hand in hand to make the quality of life for residents one that everybody is happy with.”
Gagliardi said the courts have been a partner in this and that the ticketing program for underage drinking impresses upon students that this is an issue the city takes seriously.
Working with Chris Dukes, director of student conduct services, Monteiro arranged for students needing to fulfill court-ordered community service to work with the Clean Up Crew. However, not every student volunteer is by mandate of the courts.
“That’s not what it’s about,” Monteiro said. “It’s more about taking responsibility for the community and cleaning it up around us. It’s a nice option for those who are in trouble, because they’re doing community service in the area of the violations and that’s one of the main points they’re stressing at the Town and Gown. They’re helping out on campus and even better than that is that they’re cleaning up the neighborhood.”