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WVU garbage policy spurs dispute between faculty, administrators

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Faculty members said West Virginia University’s policy of requiring them to take out their own trash is the “last straw.”

They voiced their concerns about a new university initiative to create less waste and more recycling during a WVU Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday.

The initiative, known as the Streamlined Recycling Program, requires faculty members to dump their garbage and recycling into centralized bins in hallways and near heavily trafficked areas.

“What a lot of universities have found is that by transitioning to this, individuals have become more mindful (of) what they are doing with their waste,” said Stephanie Toothman, operations coordinator for WVU’s recycling services, who gave a faculty presentation with Randy Hudak, associate vice president of Facility & Services.

Hawley Montgomery-Downs, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, raised concerns on behalf of her department and the Eberly College.

“If you’re interested in the word on the street, this is part of a bigger issue that a lot of my colleagues are calling the last straw.

“The unofficial motto on the Downtown Campus is that we do more with less. … We have lower salaries, we have less resources and just general unhappiness. And this (trash initiative) is coming at a really unfortunate time,” she said.

She said their concerns include taking out hazardous waste, how much time it would take and whether the faculty actually would do it.

“The message I have been asked to send to you is that faculty will not take out their trash,” she said.

Brent McCusker, associate chairman of Geography, agreed with Montgomery-Downs and the department’s concern regarding time. He asked if it would not be cheaper to hire more janitors.

The reason for the switch is that the university wants to recycle more, Toothman answered. The university found that people are throwing away recyclables, which WVU wants to prevent, she said.

“Economically, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” McCusker said.

Toothman said the janitors will collect garbage in public areas, just not faculty offices. It will allow the janitors to devote more time to other areas in “dire need, that get put to the side.”


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