A heap of trash near Prospect Street. There are trash bins buried under the debris. Photo: Jasper Burget

By Jasper Burget

Around this time each year, thousands of UC Berkeley students move out of their accommodations and head for home. And each year they leave behind a colossal mess. Walking through the area south of campus near Piedmont Avenue, which hosts a number of fraternities, sororities and other student housing, the evidence of the exodus is everywhere. Discarded belongings line the sidewalks. Couches and mattresses are especially common, but other items included a television and a teddy bear. Also present are heaps of debris whose original form can be difficult to identify. Even when students make an effort to place everything in appropriate receptacles, the contents inevitably overflow.

Before all Cal students are labeled slobs, it should be noted that there were also numerous signs of attempts to clean up. U-Haul trucks lined the streets and students were hard at work packing belongings into car trunks and trash into dumpsters. The city and university have also taken steps to minimize the mess.

“Over the years, UC has worked closely with the city to reduce the amount of trash left after spring semester ends and the mass exodus of students begins,” said Cal spokesman for Residential and Student Service Programs Marty Takimoto. “During move-out, UC sets up large dumpsters near each of our major residence hall complexes and coordinates with UC recycling to recycle items which were previously thrown away or left on sidewalks.”

A new program this year had students lease in-room refrigerators rather than bringing their own. This addressed an issue from previous years where many fridges were left behind. Those refrigerators were often hard to recycle or throw away, but the fridges leased to students this year were Energy Star rated for efficiency, and the provider collected them at the end of the year. “I’ve found that students are very interested in recycling and being more sustainable. They just need to have information to help them do so,” Takimoto added.

This year, Takimoto said, the move-out process from the residence halls went “very smoothly.”

“We haven’t eliminated all the trash left by students but we continue to improve each year,” he said.

Unfortunately, the mess may prove to be the inevitable result of a massive and sudden annual departure of residents from the neighborhood. Berkeleyside documented the Southside scene earlier this week.

(Photographs by Jasper Burget)

Debris in a yard at Haste Street and College Avenue.
A sofa on the sidewalk near Piedmont Avenue.
A sofa and mattress on Warring Street.
Furniture on the median of Piedmont Avenue.
A mattress blocks the sidewalk on Derby Street.
Mattresses on the sidewalk of Prospect Street.
A mattress and debris near Piedmont Avenue.
A television sits on the sidewalk near Piedmont Avenue.
Trash on the sidewalk by frat row.
Overflowing trash near Prospect Street.
Litter on the sidewalk near frat row, including a holiday-themed teddy bear.

Jasper Burget, a senior at Head-Royce School, is currently interning at Berkeleyside. He will attend Williams College this fall. 

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