June 17, 2019 | 78° F

Team Up to Clean Up event brings students together to improve the Rutgers campus and local community

Photo by Casey Ambrosio |

The Team Up to Clean Up program first launched last year and has since gained traction and attention at Rutgers. The most recent event, which took place last Sunday, gave students the chance to pick up litter on and around campus.

Students and members of the Rutgers community helped out at Scarlet Knights Team Up to Clean Up event this past Sunday by picking up garbage and debris around campus.

Caryn Washington, the assistant director of Rutgers Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships, launched the Scarlet Knights Team Up to Clean Up pilot program in the Fall of 2016, as an initiative focused on cleanups after football games in an attempt to foster a cleaner environment, she said in an email.

“Our philosophy is whether you are a commuter, an on-campus resident or an off-campus resident, we are all a part of this community and should work together to keep our community clean,” Washington said.

Ashley Morris, a Service Day intern with Rutgers Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships and a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, reiterated that opinion.

Team Up to Clean Up is very important because students live on and off campus, and considering that the off-campus area is so close to on-campus, it is important to keep our neighbors in mind, Morris said.

“It reminds us to respect their properties and their homes just as much as you would want yours respected as well,” she said.

Washington said that Rutgers Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships teams up with volunteers and people such as Donna Caputo, the recycling coordinator for the City of New Brunswick, in order to make these cleanups possible.

“It sounds simple enough, let’s go out and pick up litter. But what do you do with all of it once you pick it up? (Caputo) was able to map out six drop-off locations for us to leave the trash and recycling,” Washington said. “After each cleanup I email her to let her know how many bags are in each location and then they are picked up by the Parks Department the next day.”

Washington also said that the volunteer turnout has been great. There are a lot of students that return for multiple cleanups and notice the importance of what they are doing and how they are helping the community.

Right now the primary outreach is to Rutgers students, but if community members wanted to get involved and volunteer they would be more than welcome to, Morris said.

“Even if you can only come for one clean up, anything helps. If you can just take one day out of your semester and what-not, it’s really helpful,” she said.

There are a total of five cleanups scheduled this fall, Washington said, with past dates being Sept. 10, Sept. 17 and Oct. 1, and two future dates scheduled for Oct. 22 and Nov. 5.

Leah Wasserman, a Service Day intern and School of Arts and Sciences junior, said that most of the cleanups take place in the off-campus living area around the College Avenue campus.

Wasserman said that sometimes people wrongly get the idea that community cleanups are just about picking up trash.

“Community cleanups are not just picking up trash, there’s also the environment you’re in and the vibe of the people around you. There is a lot of laughing and smiling,” she said.

The organization is involved in a variety of community services, outside of just cleanups, Wasserman said. Sunday morning volunteers assisted at the Century for a Cure Service Day.

There was a charity bike ride that raised money for the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and she said that volunteers helped with setting up food and drink tables for riders and cheered them on.

Washington said that it is part of their department’s initiative to teach the art of neighboring to all students and that this effort is helping to have residents look at students in a more positive light.

“It is important because it brings a sense of community to the area, and reminds people that New Brunswick is the home of Rutgers," Wasserman said.

Ryan Stiesi is a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. 

Ryan Stiesi

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