GW students and Foggy Bottom residents gathered Saturday morning to clean up their neighborhood amid criticism that students are problematic neighbors.
The Foggy Bottom Cleanup, sponsored by the Student Association, began in the Marvin Center Ballroom with a free breakfast for speakers and 85 volunteers.
GW sophomore Eddie Rodriguez spoke about the benefits of joining AmeriCorps. Ellie Becker, president of the Foggy Bottom Association, and Charlie Noodles, a homeless man, discussed subjects ranging from safety precautions while picking up trash to the importance of cleaning up the neighborhood.
Students were divided into groups to tackle the streets and traveled to different areas in Foggy Bottom. Volunteers covered the area between the 26th and 22nd streets and L, K and Eye streets. By early afternoon, approximately 120 bags of trash were collected.
Some Foggy Bottom residents said they felt the activity was simply a public relations ploy by the University administration.
Its done once a year, it’s covered in the newspapers as if this is something just great, but for the rest of the time we have to suffer with (neighborhoods overcrowded with students), which makes a number of the dwellings look like slums, said Maria Tyler, a resident of Foggy Bottom and a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
The house at 910 New Hampshire Ave., next to the Foggy Bottom 7-Eleven convenience store, marked one particular area in need of cleaning. Neighbors said they have been bothered by the presence of two old sofas outside the house. As part of the cleanup effort, students disposed of the old sofas with the consent of the home’s residents, who are GW students.
Jeff Marootian, SA vice president of Community Affairs, said he was disappointed to hear the negative comments from some of the Foggy Bottom residents.
Within Foggy Bottom, and within D.C., students do an abundance of community service, said Marootian, who organized the event. What some people don’t realize is that these events are planned by students who really care.
Marootian said these events were not sponsored by the administration and said students were not compensated for their services.
Many Greek organizations, including Sigma Delta Tau, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi, and Phi Kappa Si, participated in the Foggy Bottom Cleanup alongside other student organizations, like the Residence Hall Association, and individual students.
I was surprised at the turnout for an event so early on a Saturday morning, said junior Tammy Inman, who cleaned the area around 27th and K streets. They seemed genuinely interested in being there and being involved.
Most Foggy Bottom residents who took part in the cleanup said they were pleased to see GW students concerned about the Foggy Bottom community and participating in community service.
Olga Cory, a resident of Foggy Bottom and a participant in the cleanup, came to the Marvin Center Ballroom in the morning wearing a shirt that read I love GW students. Cory said she is impressed by the students’ show of concern for community through various community service projects they perform.
Student Association President Phil Meisner, who also took part in the Foggy Bottom Cleanup, said he was happy to help clean up his community.
For the most part, for the large, large part, we are really here to help, and we love the community here, and we love the area, Meisner said. We want to care for it, and we want to keep it beautiful.
It shows that we are really part of Foggy Bottom, and that we care about where we live, and it’s a good thing when we are involved, he said.
Russ Rizzo contributed to this report.