For the first time, the Foggy Bottom Cleanup was held in the fall with plans to repeat the event during the spring. About 150 students participated Saturday, picking up an estimated 75 bags of trash from Foggy Bottom sidewalks and streets. With such high attendance and having performed an important community service, the event was a huge success, and the Student Association and Residence Hall Association should both be commended for their efforts at organizing the cleanup.
But noticeably absent from the festivities were actual Foggy Bottom residents. The time and energy invested by a vocal core of residents to criticize the University and its students when important issues come to light is mismatched by the lack of care they show when students devote their time to clean up a neighborhood that is home to us all. Only a handful of non-students showed up for the important event. This lack of interest is extremely disheartening.
The idea of the cleanup is to beautify the neighborhood and show GW’s neighbors that a strong student presence in Foggy Bottom can be a good thing. It also gives students and long-time residents the chance to meet and hopefully improve relations between the two groups. If residents do not participate in this event, its mission is only half fulfilled.
Perhaps student organizers should have done a better job publicizing the event in the community, or maybe community members should have made a commitment to attend. Regardless who is to blame, more Foggy Bottom residents should take part in the future.
GW students gave their time and efforts to beautifying parts of the neighborhood where few students live. They ventured beyond campus and into the neighborhood to make a difference. Student organizations should work to implement more programs of this kind that accomplish community service goals while providing an opportunity for interaction with GW’s neighbors.
After acrimonious fights over the campus plan, GW’s various construction projects, noise complaints, enrollment caps and other issues, Foggy Bottom received an opportunity for a respite from the bickering between residents and the University community. While the streets of Foggy Bottom certainly look cleaner, it is sad that more residents chose not to take part.