Allison Sponic said there’s a trash problem off campus—and the problem begins with a lack of respect.
“Before people come to Temple, they think there’s this bad reputation of where we are, so they assume no one really cares when there’s trash,” said Sponic, a junior entrepreneurship major.
Last month for a group project in an entrepreneurial marketing class, Sponic and a few of her classmates decided to address the litter problem.
“Tidy Up Temple” is an initiative that hopes to bring awareness to the presence of litter around Main Campus, both for the sake of North Philadelphia residents and future students planning to live in the neighborhood. By putting a face to the region, the group members feel they can incentivize students to respect the area and its permanent residents.
Temple’s “Good Neighbor Initiative” was formed in 2011 to accomplish a similar purpose. To ease relations between students living off campus and residents of North Philadelphia, the initiative addresses several community issues like proper trash disposal, which Tidy Up Temple hopes to build off.
The zone Tidy Up Temple aims to clean up encompasses the area patrolled by Temple Police and slightly beyond, reaching 19th Street.
Though he said the accumulation of trash can’t be blamed on any one source, Will Mundy, the block captain of the 1600 block of Page Street, agrees that the problem began with student misconceptions about the neighborhood.
“Students each have their own identity, but many come to Temple with certain opinions of this area,” Mundy said.
Another member of the group, Jason Klaus, said the problem stems from students’ inability to see this neighborhood as home.
“In reality, students probably aren’t going to live here forever,” the junior finance major said. “You live here maybe eight or nine months out of the year, for four years maybe. It’s a memory, so students can feel detached from the community.”
Mundy, along with the students of Tidy Up Temple, worry that an on-campus stadium could worsen the trash problem.
“It’s rough now, and it’ll probably be astronomical if they build the stadium,” said Mundy, a member of Stadium Stompers, a group comprised and students and community residents opposing to the university’s plans for an on-campus football stadium. .
“On game days, it could definitely have a very negative effect,” said Kevin Bradley, one of the group’s members and a junior entrepreneurship major. “Instead of tailgating at [Lincoln Financial Field], people will be tailgating closer to campus, so that could lead to a lot of trash, no doubt.”
The group began its initiative last month, but members say other students are already getting on board with the idea of a cleaner neighborhood and offering their support.
When Bradley posted in the Temple University Facebook page asking which areas off campus were most littered, he was taken aback by the response—students not only gave their input, but also asked him to keep them updated about the project. Students even volunteered to help the group before they initially inquired for volunteers.
“A lot of people are willing to help out and clean up, they just don’t know how to start,” Sponic said.
Tidy Up Temple hopes to provide students with that opportunity.
On April 9, Tidy Up Temple will participate in Philly Spring Cleanup, an annual event in which volunteers span the entire city to clean up participating parks and public spaces. Tidy Up Temple hopes to gather as many students as possible to volunteer as a group and participate in this event.
“This problem is definitely student-caused,” Sponic said. “So we want to do our part to fix what we’ve done.”
Casey Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org