Is the university to blame or the students?
The campus grounds of FGCU are typically cleaned up daily by staff and some good-natured students. The same cannot be said for the conservation areas near both boardwalks behind Merwin Hall and Whitalker Hall.
Back in January photos were taken of the trash near the bridges and again in mid-April. Though at first, it seemed the trash was picked up, a closer inspection showed that business cards left from visitors and water bottles and candy wrappers dropped by students were hidden under new plant life and even washed under the bridges during the February and March rainfall.
According to Jim Hel, Director of Physical Plant at FGCU, Physical Plant is responsible for grounds clean up for the litter that is strewn around campus. Student workers also help clean up litter on a daily basis but the litter continues because of one main factor on campus.
"One of the main culprits are posting folks (duct) tape to exterior windows and columns, which is against our policies and they just blow away," Jim Hel said. "Local business establishments which leave loose advertisement cards on tables also just blow away and we are left to clean-up."
There are people like Andrew Allen, a Sophomore here at FGCU that pick up litter when they can. "Litter has always irked me because it's such a lazy thing to do that has a lasting negative impact on both our social and ecological environments," he said.
Due to the alligators that could be hidden in the bushes near the boardwalks, it is dangerous for students to pick up the trash left behind.
Carolina Guzman, a junior at FGCU talks about seeing a duck swimming next to a red solo cup. "I assumed the school cleaned it up," she said. "There are trash cans and recycling bins everywhere, there's no need for there to be so much litter. There's got to be ways to get the trash. They [the university] just won't make it a top priority."
There is no known group or staff that specifically cleans up trash in these possible hazards areas. Most of the trash is near the bridges or under but close enough to reach for with a gator grabber. Placing a couple of grabbers around campus that can be used by students who swipe their Eagle card could be a solution that the university could implement.
"If people can't see it, it doesn't seem like a problem for our school. If trash gets swept away and non-detected, the school chooses to ignore the trash that piles up in unknown areas," said Haley Volcy, one of many concerned students.
There are students who feel that the university isn't ignoring the problem but haven't been informed of the litter under the bridges.
"I feel like the university, despite being very nature and sustainability driven, is blinded or misinformed right now with all the new additions to the school that they're doing," said student Jasmine Carrillo.
"We all just have to keep doing our best to clean up and educate others to not throw garbage on our beautiful campus," said Jim Hehl when asked about the water bottles floating in the waters under the bridges.
There are FGCU students willing to stop and pick up trash, there are posters near the sites reminding students to be cautious but in areas where safety is a priority, the university does not have ways that to allow students to clean the environment when it rolls off the bridges.