UT Landscape Services clean up campus, prepare grounds for commencement

Nicole Stuessy

Glitter and confetti are popular props to use in graduation photos, but the debris stays behind on campus grounds long after the photo shoots are over.

UT Landscape Services will clean up the leftover debris from popular campus areas, such as Littlefield Fountain, Battle Hall and in front of the Tower, along with performing normal landscaping maintenance work to prepare for the commencement ceremony in May, landscape supervisor Michael Klemmer said.

“Really from about now until graduation you’ll just see (pollution) happen in a handful of areas and the crews who work those areas pretty much know about it,” Klemmer said. “They just use a blower or pick it up. We do strongly encourage to not (use confetti) in photos because confetti makes its way into everything.”

Geography senior Kate Shirley said she thinks seniors should look into using other environmentally friendly props, such as bubbles, in their photos.

“Glitter is really bad for the environment, and it’s really easy for glitter to get from the front door of Battle Hall to the Waller Creek watershed,” Shirley said. “It’s so easy to just not do it.”


Confetti or glitter that makes its way into Littlefield Fountain is filtered out of the water, said Laurie Lentz, communications manager for Financial and Administrative Services. This task is performed by Zone 4 maintenance, a unit within the facilities services department.

“They have a very fine net that they use to scoop out that debris in the fountain,” Lentz said. “Things left behind like bottles or cans are recycled, and then the rest goes in the trash.”

Lentz said maintenance crews will also recirculate the water in Littlefield Fountain to prevent algae growth from turning the water green.

“They don’t use chemicals to clean any of the fountains,” Lentz said. “For commencement and certain other special events, they actually turn on the fountains so that you have (the water) spray into the air.”

Klemmer said tree trimming is another important part of preparing for commencement to ensure branches aren’t blocking the audience’s view of the ceremony.

“Every year we know, ‘OK, they’re going to set up a big stage here, or they’re going to put up a big screen here,’” Klemmer said. “That’s all pretty much the same thing every yaear because those trees grow back and so we just clear those things back.”

Around spring break every year, Klemmer said Landscaping Services will block off the South Mall lawn to ensure the grass looks good in time for commencement.

“If we didn’t do that, it would just get used so much that the grass would just simply never grow,” Klemmer said. “It would just get beaten down.”

While this prevents students from being able to study on the lawn during nice days, Shirley said she understands why Landscaping Services plans ahead.

“The grass needs a little bit of downtime,” Shirley said. “It’s disappointing for students, but if we want to have beautiful lawns, it’s just part of maintaining the University.”