For two days in the week before mid-winter break, students were banned from part of the library’s 2nd floor. School librarians cordoned off the table nearest the stairs and left a sign explaining the closure; this was a punishment for those students who had left a mess on the table the day before. Beyond the usual empty chip bags, students left sticky Izze residue and sub-par test grades behind. The miffed librarians made sure to leave the assorted junk just as it was like evidence at a crime scene. In my time at Lakeside, I’ve gotten used to seeing these sorts of crackdowns on carelessness; however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen us students get any cleaner.
For my class alone (‘21), this is the third time this year that the librarians have had to bring out the stanchions to block off a table. After a closure, the already overcrowded library bulges with student exiles, leading to disgruntlement from students who weren’t even responsible for the mess. “I don’t really care if they get themselves banned from the library, but if that means they encroach on my space, then that’s annoying,” said Harry L. ‘21.
Another Junior, Nathin W. echoed Harry’s frustrations with the sloppy students and wished they’d get their act together. “Sometimes, though, I try and do the right thing and pick up other people’s trash,” Nathin said. While he might be Mr. Clean in the library, I know Nathin in another light as my mailbox neighbor. Time and again, I’ve been fooled from afar, thinking that a teacher had returned a major assignment; no, it was just Nathin’s year-old, untouched PSAT review book in the adjacent box. Paper hoarders make Bliss such an eyesore with their overflowing boxes that there’s an annual schoolwide order to clean them out.
One of the most infamous cases of Lakesider filthiness occurred last year, when students became so lazy that they started throwing refectory utensils into classroom trash cans. “The walk back to the refectory is way too long,” said one anonymous, serial silverware squanderer. “I eventually stopped putting them in trash cans and opted to just leave them in drinking fountains.” Silverware theft is probably the cause of that ubiquitous feeling of reaching again and again into the unmarked utensil holders, yet somehow never finding a spoon.
Some Lakesiders are careless or lazy, but when it comes to their actions or the punishments they receive, all students suffer. Whether it’s a migrant crisis in the library or spoon shortage in the refectory, the slobs among us are to blame. Lakeside should continue to change the culture around cleanliness with consequences, but should try to employ measures that only affect the culprits. As a more permanent solution, the school could encourage students to be more Nathin-like, a self-proclaimed “super-picker-upper.”