A Common Problem

Who cares about the Commons?

Do you enjoy sitting anywhere on campus during lunch? Or going out to Tubs Subs or Himitsu? Well if we don’t clean up our act, that could all vanish.

As most of you intellectually courageous readers probably know, some possible punishments have been laid out by the administration for the commons being repeatedly left a mess. Possible punishments include seating charts, the revoking of off-campus lunch privileges and more.

Recently teachers and administrators have threatened to impose assigned seating charts in an attempt to get students to clean up what they leave behind. A few have suggested bringing the Middle School commons care system to Upper School, but do students think that it would help to bring it back?

“Nobody really hated it, and it was more effective because as soon as [commons care] stopped, all of this started,” Junior Sienna Axe said. But was it actually more effective when it was brought to Upper School all those years ago?

“In the time that I’ve been here we had the Upper School do [the middle school system] where advisories needed to show up 15 minutes before the end of lunch to clean up,” Assistant Director of Upper School Sarah Peterson said.

While the system worked somewhat, it was not without flaws.

“In Upper School [it’s] harder because kids aren’t always in the commons… we ran into problems where the same three kids didn’t show up [to clean]. There was an issue with ‘what do you do when people don’t come?’” Peterson said. “So then they changed to the policy of classes doing it because you knew the kids would show up… but that created this perverse set of incentives to do a crappy job… it would take 15-20 minutes out of class, that was a 45 minute class every day for a week,” Peterson said. “It wasn’t working.”

After that, the job of cleaning was left to the students under the assumption that everyone would try to clean up after themselves to the best of their ability, with a few teachers monitoring. However, we see the recurring problem of messes being left in the commons, library, hallways, around the bases of garbage cans, etc. It seems every year the same pattern of the commons getting messier and messier returns, so the question is, why?

The problem of cleaning up is worse, this year especially, in the Upper School than in the Middle School, so if high schoolers are older (and theoretically more mature), why are they worse at cleaning up their own mess?                                                                                                                                          

“I think it’s just laziness,” sophomore John Higley said. “A lot of people don’t give a damn.”

By Micho Matuszewski