Graduating seniors are leaving their mark, but not in the way you think

Aaron Sullivan, General News Reporter

While people associate graduation with caps and gowns, it’s also become synonymous with increased trash on UT’s campus. As the semester ends, confetti, streamers and champagne corks collect around Littlefield Fountain from graduation photo shoots.

Litter from graduation photo shoots can be found on Main Mall and other popular photo destinations around campus. Jim Carse, the University’s Landscape Services Manager, said his team has taken steps to encourage graduates taking pictures to reduce littering this semester.

Carse said Landscape Services manages the grounds around the fountain and the Six Pack, while the gardens on University Avenue are the responsibility of a contractor.

“The contractor services those areas multiple times per week and is aware of the increase in trash,” Carse said in an email. “We also encourage the campus community to throw away trash in … receptacles to reduce litter in the area.”

Landscape Services plans “to set out some additional trash and recycling receptacles labeled for champagne bottles, which has proven (to) help in previous years,” Carse said.

Advertising senior Makayla Bryant said she took photos at Mary E. Gearing and Goldsmith Halls and Littlefield Fountain late March. Bryant said she noticed the most litter near Littlefield Fountain and in the gardens along University Avenue.

“There was just confetti everywhere,” Bryant said. “They would just pop (the confetti) and leave. They’d pop the champagne, and then they just (say), ‘I got my photo, and I’m done.’”

Bryant said she did not notice additional trash cans or recycling bins near Littlefield Fountain when she took her photos. Despite this, Bryant said she and her photographer “found a solution to the problem” and packed any garbage away in their bags.

“I feel like it’s not a University problem,” Bryant said. “It’s a people problem. If you’re going to take photos, have the common decency to pick up after yourself.”

Yaneisi Arriaga, a speech, language and hearing science senior, said she saw the most litter in Littlefield Fountain when she took her photos last week. She said there wasn’t much litter at other spots like the Six Pack, Main Mall or Goldsmith Hall.

“The fountain was pretty messy,” Arriaga said. “You even had to be careful when you got in to not step on champagne wires.”

Arriaga and Bryant both said having an extra set of hands made disposing of their garbage much easier. Arriaga said she invited friends to help her and the photographer.

“I just tossed the (champagne cage) out to them,” Arriaga said, “Then somebody would take care of it.”

Arriaga said the University could include reminders to pick up after photo shoots in the many emails it sends to seniors preparing to graduate. Bryant said a friendly reminder might help alleviate the problem.