Photos: Departing Cal students leave debris piles behind

A heap of trash near Prospect St. Photo: Jasper Burget

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

Debris in a yard at Haste Street and College Avenue.

Sofa near Piedmont Ave. Photo: Jasper Burget

A sofa on the sidewalk near Piedmont Avenue.

Sofa and mattress on Warring St. Photo: Jasper Burget

A sofa and mattress on Warring Street.

Furniture on the median of Piedmont Ave. Photo: Jasper Burget

Furniture on the median of Piedmont Avenue.

A mattress blocks the sidewalk on Derby St. Photo: Jasper Burget

A mattress blocks the sidewalk on Derby Street.

Mattresses on the sidewalk of Prospect St. Photo: Jasper Burget

Mattresses on the sidewalk of Prospect Street.

Mattress and debris near Piedmont Ave. Photo: Jasper Burget

A mattress and debris near Piedmont Avenue.

Television near Piedmont Ave. Photo: Jasper Burget

A television sits on the sidewalk near Piedmont Avenue.

Trash on the sidewalk by frat row. Photo: Jasper Burget

Trash on the sidewalk by frat row.

Overflowing trash near Prospect St. Photo: Jasper Burget

Overflowing trash near Prospect Street.

Trash near on the sidewalk near frat row. Photo: Jasper Burget

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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  • guest

    In that case, offer it as an option. Allow local businesses to compete for renting fridges to students.

  • It’s all related.

    And then primary produces would sell less volume and have to raise the prices for their goods even more.

  • guest

    In case you need to know the result of granting monopoly status to access a captive market, check the yelp page for Micro 101 – Thirteen out of Fourteen reviews are 1 star.

  • TeddyBallgame

    J. N. Gross “…They are not doing anything anyone else would do under the circumstances.” What!! Really??? Anyone else who is poorly socialized and who has no sense of the responsibilities of living in a community might. Many students are quite considerate of the neighbors they leave behind and are responsible for properly disposing of their debris. However, an increasing minority see such dumping as perfectly acceptable behavior and the norm. Many of these students have negotiated their way on trips across Europe, completed challenging college and loan applications, used alternative means of transportation, etc – but somehow don’t have the mindset to recycle, to use Craigslist and to otherwise dispose of their refuse. Like many other homeowners, I have the misfortune of an absentee landlord neighbor who is totally indifferent to the junk that some of his renters routinely deposit on the curb. He is conveniently absent on move-out day – despite just living blocks away – and he clearly exerts no pressure on his departing renters to clean up after themselves. Not surprisingly, he is notably quite present when the rent checks are due. Like some of his renters, his behavior for many years regularly demonstrates that he couldn’t care any less about our shared environment. If allowed to do so, he would pay no attention to debris left behind. In his mind, it’s not his problem – If the residents on the block don’t like it, it’s their problem. I don’t have a good solution to this issue, but in the meantime I would like to see significant disincentives for landlords passively allowing the trashing of our off-campus neighborhoods.

  • guest

    Also note that trash usually ends up on the street only AFTER all of the garbage cans have been filled up…and that of course includes cans belonging to other units and properties. If you’re a year-round resident who wants to empty a diaper bin or throw out the kitchen trash anytime around the start or end of a semester, you’re in trouble.

    Dumping also occurs inside common areas of shared buildings. Departing residents often leave a pile of ‘free’ goods, which wind up falling on the remaining residents to clean up.

  • Guest

    Wow. I don’t even really know what to say to that. What an awful thing to assume about several tens of thousands of your neighbors and community members.

  • Hank Chapot

    I work at UC. There were no dumpsters put out this year. And you know, people dump unwanted clothing, left over food and disposable furniture at people’s park every day. Its part of my job to remove it and i would rather be gardening.

  • Guest

    Simply charge the University to clean up after their children…
    Maybe the students can vote for “UC Clean Streets Initiative” with their new clout at city hall?
    City administrators could also levy a tax on all UC students to help pay to have streets paved as well.

  • Guest
  • justsaying

    make it simple – the school needs to EDUCATE these Sloppy kids how they impact our community that they are leaving behind that has been welcoming to them.

    we live by North Bart Station that gets these people dumping their BROKEN garbage all the time – we call the Berkeley Waste Mgmt and they won’t pick up – because it’s not inside the garbage bins! Damn it’s not our garbage!

    these should be considered ILLEGAL dumping with fees! COME on UC Berkeley these are YOUR students! should we go and dump on the campus.

    We live in a nice family neighborhood – why should we have this blight of dumped garbage…Urban Ore won’t take any broken furniture..this is GARBAGE! Seems these students leave with these stained mattresses, broken furniture…etc.

    This needs to stop !

  • justsaying

    Maybe CIty of Berkeley should charge a Student Departure Fee / deposit – if there is no garbage after the students leave money would be given back – charge them $300 each ! Believe me they they would want their $ back or charge landlord this fee- they will enforce this – when $ is involved they will clean up! And give them a timeline – like 7 days ! to clean…or City keeps the $

  • snarkalicious

    Maybe. But I went to college in the early 90’s, used crappy particle board desks and futons, etc. – and NEVER EVER would have dreamed of just dumping my stuff on the side of the road. We just moved from a rental on the north side of campus to a more residential neighborhood, and I can’t tell you how nice it is to not see junked mattresses and trashed furniture thrown all over the place. There has to be a better way.

  • guest

    Weird that someone who hates UC Berkeley so much would decide to live in Berkeley.

    I guess you must really enjoy being unhappy!

  • The difference between Berkeley and other cities that have UC in their community is the level of permissiveness. Berkeley views this BS as inevitable because of a hippie overly permissive and forgiving culture. Davis on the other hand would be handing out illegal dumping tickets, assigning court dates, and collecting thousands of dollars in fines.

    This city needs to lose its fear of enforcing the law and being called fascist for doing so. Making an example of student scofflaws sets a standard and shows the student community there are lines that cannot be crossed without consequences. Each time the city allows this to happen, it lets down every permanent resident of the city.

  • There are designated facilities. One is called Goodwill. Every store accepts donations

    When I was at undergrad, grad school, and every move in between, Goodwill WAS the designated facility. The answer to this behavior is citations for illegal dumping, court dates, STIFF fines, and possible expulsion from the UC.

    Give the trustifarian children of the 1% consequences and they will change their behavior or choose another city to attend school and trash. This does not happen everywhere there is a university. It happens where there are little to no consequences if you get caught.

  • That’s flawed logic. If the university incurs a cost, where do you think the money comes from? (Answer) The students and to a lesser extent, the taxpayers of the State of California.

    Better to just tack on another fee to the ASUC fee to cover debris removal. Maybe those that object to the fee can apply peer pressure to their friends that don’t care if they trash the city.

  • eriksf

    This problem isn’t entirely the fault of students. There is a segment of the non transient Berkeley population who think it is perfectly fine to dump worthless clothing, food, furniture etc. on our streets. It is visible all over town all year long. I am constantly picking up junk and throwing it in the nearest dumpster to keep my neighborhood from looking like a slum.

    I live 2-3 blocks from places that take used goods, Savers and Out of the Closet, and yet my neighbors dump in the streets. Too lazy to travel a few blocks and donate their stuff. Pathetic that we have to even discuss this. Just do the right thing people, it’s not that hard.

  • Guest

    Weird assumptions you make…weird.

  • J Nicholas Gross

    “…donations can be dropped off at these sites”

    That is not a practical solution to most students who: a) don’t own cars; b) if they have a car, prob not large enough to haul furniture to a Goodwill facility. If Goodwill was smart, they would park containers on campus (with University’s permission) and let students “donate” items there

  • eriksf

    The problem is that it transforms our neighborhoods into slums with piles of junk everywhere. People put out 15 year old electronics that are worthless, stained mattresses, bottles of strange mystery fluids (is it anti freeze, windex or juice?) And when people don’t pick up these free treasures they sit out for us all to enjoy for weeks.