Off-campus student waste poses problem for town

by Mika Jehoon Lee | 5/5/17 2:00am

According to Hanover town manager Julia Griffin, if she were renting out apartments, she would be hesitant to rent to Dartmouth students because many of them “do not respect other people’s property.”

Every year, the town deals with dozens of complaints from Hanover residents about improper waste disposal by students living off-campus, Hanover Fire Marshal and deputy fire chief Michael Hinsley said. However, the number of complaints varies significantly from year to year, Hinsley added.

Students’ improper trash disposal has left neighbors furious because the odor and sight of garbage has invited bears into the Hanover area, according to Griffin.

Students tend to dump their trash out by the curb, leaving it for days without securing or covering it, Griffin said. Hinsley echoed a similar sentiment, emphasizing that it is important for students to put their garbage in a dumpster because otherwise the waste collectors will not collect their trash and it will accumulate.

Kish Consulting & Contracting owner Jolin Kish ’88 Th’91, whose company provides rental housing to several hundred students within a five-mile radius of its Hanover office, said her company has decided to provide its own trash service in response to students’ improper trash disposal, as the previous system was ineffective for her tenants.

“If we hire a company to pick up trash, they expect the tenants to put the trash at the curb on the right day at [a] ridiculously early hour of the morning, then take the empty trash barrel and put it back [behind the rental],” Kish said. “And we found less than 1 percent of students did that.”

Kish and her employees now drive to students’ rentals and empty their trash barrels. As a result, students do not have to move their barrels in front of and behind their rental at a certain time every week.

However, Kish said there are several students who do not even put their trash in the trash barrel. The company sends them a stern email and later contacts their parents if their actions continue.

Kish also requires her tenants to attend an orientation at her house when they first rent from her, during which she discusses proper garbage disposal, the noise ordinance and good neighbor behavior.

Jenny Seong ’16 GR’18, who has rented a house on Maple Street from Kish Consulting & Contracting since last fall, said the company’s rules are relatively strict, but its training programs like the orientation meeting have helped her properly dispose her garbage.

Stacey Lee ’17, who lives on campus, said the relative ease with which Dartmouth students dispose of their trash when living on campus may make them accustomed to a convenient lifestyle.

“I do feel like Dartmouth students are taken care of by custodians,” Lee said. “We never really have to take care of our trash because we throw it out in front of our dorm and it is just gone.”

Hinsley said it is paramount that students be consistently educated about off-campus housing regulations and expectations. Many Hanover residents do not know that there could be different students occupying the same house every term, so they might believe that students are ignoring their complaints, Hinsley added.

Hinsley emphasized that Dartmouth students are not malicious. When asked to properly dispose of their trash, they tend to be responsive and cooperative, he said. However, he added that students need to be more aware that they take on greater responsibility when living off-campus.

“As important as it is to learn about Copernicus or poetry or global politics, personal responsibility is important too,” Hinsley said. “And a lot of that is being self-aware, being aware of your surroundings and of your neighbors.”