Ifeoluwa Olubode, culinary management student and residence occupant, volunteering with Campus Clean-up in July Photo credit: Sophia Adams

Four community-minded students from the Ottawa campus residence withstood summer heat on July 22 to participate in the first organized clean-up since COVID-19 hit, in an effort to keep their living and working spaces free of garbage and mess.

In the main lobby of the Residence building, participants were greeted with a warm welcome from Algonquin College Residence staff. Volunteers got set up with gloves and garbage bags, and made their way through the residence green spaces to pick up and dispose of any litter.

Snacks and beverages were provided for participating in the clean-up, as students picked up garbage, talked with one another and worked to create a stronger and cleaner community.

Sadia Ahmed, far left; Raiyvn Halcro, second from left; Dana Deline, second from the right; and Pauline Phelan, far right.
Sadia Ahmed, far left; Raiyvn Halcro, second from left; Dana Deline, second from the right; and Pauline Phelan, far right. Photo credit: Sophia Adams

Raiyvn Halcro, Community Advisor at Algonquin College Residence and Conference Centre and Campus Clean-up coordinator said, “It is important to keep your community clean. The whole point of residence life is to build community, that is why we do this.”

Students living in the residence building started in the main courtyard and made their way to the Rosser Courtyard and along the outside perimeter of the residence.

“We all live here and so, seeing vape pods, coke cans, or smokes just thrown on the ground, you lose some pride in your community,” Halcro said.

In the warmer weather, students are outdoors more, which increases the chances that waste will be left behind. Algonquin is a “clean air” campus, and so there are no cigarette disposal stations, which means some smokers leave their butts on the ground.

Pauline Phelan, Residence Life Coordinator at Algonquin College
Pauline Phelan, Residence Life Coordinator at Algonquin College. Photo credit: Sophia Adams

Ifeoluwa Olubode, a culinary management student and residence occupant who heard about the clean-up through Algonquin College Residence’s Instagram, said that she cares about her environment, especially in the summer.

“I see garbage items that are not supposed to be on the ground distracting from the beauty and I want to help,” Olubode remarked on the beauty of the campus during the summer.

Pauline Phelan, Residence Life Coordinator, said that she is very passionate about climate action and residence involvement in it. By disposing of garbage, the clean-up aims to encourage an attitude of caring about the environment, and minimizing damage to the planet.

For many students, living in residence and away from their parents is the first step into a more independent lifestyle that Phelan described as the “taking your training wheels off” step. She is eager to ensure that this step is a pleasant one, and doing so begins with a clean and cared-for place of living.

Phelan also said that the event should occur more regularly and “more strategically.”

“When events are happening, or fall break is approaching, is when a clean-up should take place because more garbage will be collected at once,” Phelan said

After being unable to hold the Campus Clean-up during COVID-19, Phelan said that this was a good test run for future events and planning.

“Environmental education is really important and something that we need to do better. So, I figured good role modeling means I show up to these kinds of things. I am hopeful that others will too during the next one.”