Risky Recycling Business

BY ERN POWERS // MARCH 8, 2012 //

Most college students are familiar with those large plastic bags of empty cans and bottles that leave a stench of stale beer in the air of a dorm room. It is how those bags are disposed of that can pose a challenge for some.

Students arrived back on campus for the spring semester to find a new addition to their dorms. As part of Curry’s recent recycling initiative (first explained on page four in our issue last November), each room is now equipped with small green bins so that students can dispose of their trash with the environment in mind. A list posted on students’ doors displays what can and cannot be recycled; the guidelines are clear, and items from detergent bottles to pizza boxes and tissues are all placed in their respective categories. The lengthy reminder sheet also reads the policy for recycling cans and bottles.

However, what students cannot be sure of is what kind of risk they are taking when hauling their green bin of empties to the outside receptacle.

According to Rebecca Laroche, resident director for the South Campus Residence Hall, there is no set policy for the recycling of beer cans, bottles or empty liquor bottles.

“Personally, I am thrilled that we have a better organized recycling system and I have been encouraging my residents to recycle,” said Laroche. “But if I were to see a resident who I know is underage walking with a large bag full of empty alcohol containers, I would have a conversation with them about that.”

Laroche said her approach to handling underage drinking has not changed with the new recycling system.

Stephanie Alliette, assistant director of housing operations, echoed Laroche, stating that the new bins are nothing more than a recycling initiative, not a “ploy for catching underage drinking.” Moreover, behavioral expectations of students are the same as they were prior to placement of the bins.

But not everyone believes the coast is entirely clear.

“I’m 21, so I have no problem bringing my empties out to the recycling bin,” said Zachary Allen, a junior information technology major. “If this had been a couple years earlier, I might have been more skeptical. I probably would have just left them in the trash and tossed them in the dumpster at quiet time.”

According to Alliette, all RD’s and community directors are expected to confront any underage student seen with an empty alcohol container, and to inform them of the school’s policy for underage drinking, which can be found in the Curry Student Handbook. It reads, “Possession or presence of empty alcohol containers is prohibited in rooms where students are under the age of 21 and will be viewed as evidence of possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages.”

“This would be the same expectation if empties were sitting in a trash can in a room full of minors or on the desk in their room,” said Alliette, who added that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to policy violations, as mitigating factors are often involved.

Students in “wet suites,” where each resident is at least 21 years of age, don’t face much of a dilemma. However, underage students must often choose between the environment and a clean record.

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