Garbage pail kids

Kelly Cothren

University hires students to take out the trash around campus, parking lots and the stadium

Jason Bacher, sophomore visual communication design major, empties out trash cans into the trash cart during rounds around campus. Bacher said he dislikes working outside during the cold season, but loves driving the cart.

Credit: Steve Schirra

When it comes to cleaning up trash on campus, students are getting their hands dirty. Every weekday, several Kent State students are paid to empty trash cans on campus.

“We like to call ourselves sanitary engineers,” said Jerry Brownell, sophomore visual communication design major.

Campus Environment and Operations recently started hiring students to pick up trash and bought a new Cushman, or super golf cart, to save money and get trash cans emptied more regularly.

“It is not a real sexy job, but it is a big benefit to the grounds department,” said grounds manager Heather White. “Since students are taking care of the trash cans, it frees up the full-time grounds workers to work on leaves and stuff. There should not be one overflowing trash can on campus either because they are emptied every day.”

Two shifts of students driving a Cushman with a hydraulic dump bed empty all the trash cans around campus, parking lots, Allerton Apartments and the stadium. When the Cushman is full, the students drive it to any of 76 brown Dumpsters found on campus.

“The Cushman is automatic and easy to drive,” Brownell said. “Students don’t always move out of our way though. The freshmen always move, but the upper classmen just keep walking.”

Campus Environment and Operations chose to have the students drive a Cushman because it is more practical.

“You don’t need a special license to drive a Cushman, they are cheaper to maintain than trucks and they are easier to maneuver,” groundskeeper supervisor Steve Renner said. “Before we had the Cushman, we used to use a full-size truck and a trailer to pick up the trash. It was hard to drive around buildings and on sidewalks.”

When there is a heavy snow, the students have been told they may help shovel. White said when it snows they give everyone around a shovel to help.

Even though he is emptying trash cans around campus, Brownell enjoys his job.

“It gives me something to do and it pays,” Brownell said. “The only time it has got messy was when my friend got this gross smelly stuff that leaked from the trash can all over his leg.”

Brownell has also found surprises while working. Brownell said, one time, he and his coworker found a full bottle of $80 Giorgio Armani Cologne.

Renner said because the students have only been working for a couple months they still have a lot to experience.

“When it gets warmer they get to deal with the bees,” Renner said. “The bees only sting when they are being swat and swung at. They just want the pop cans in the trash. Hopefully, emptying the cans everyday will help with the bees.”

White and Renner did the interviewing for the job and they have a waiting list for the next time they hire. Renner said they were looking for students who will show up and are not afraid to get dirty.

“We worked on making a nice job description to post,” White said. “When they came in for their interviews, that was the first thing we asked was whether or not they realized it was a garbage man job. All the students knew what the job was.”

White said she hopes eventually the program will be completely student run.

Contact building and grounds reporter Kelly Cothren at [email protected].