The Department of Residences is in the process of disciplining one of their employees after he filmed and posted a video highlighting how little is recycled in the Village residence. Village Residence at Brock University houses over 900 students, and subsequently produces a considerable amount of waste each year. Don of Village Court 1 and second-year Poli-Sci student Travis Lewis hoped to reduce the waste in some way.
Lewis brought the inconvenience of the recycling facilities to the attention of his supervisors, noting that while there were three locations for garbage disposal around Village Res, there was only one for recycling. Subsequently, in January the Department acquired a dozen wheeled recycling bins for the courts, which, instead of being placed in specific courts, have been kept near one of the garbage disposal locations at Lowenburger residence.
Lewis has made use of two of the bins, personally wheeling them to his own court for his students recycling needs. However, the others, Lewis was informed, were not in use due to a lack of chains and locks for security, as well as snow on the ground where they would be kept in the courts. According to Lewis, he had brought the problem up with his superiors as early as last semester, but was given a number of different reasons as to why the relocation of the bins was being delayed.
As such, in the last week of term Lewis filmed and posted a video showing how much recyclable goods makes it into the garbage disposals in Village. In the video, Lewis does not name or blame anyone in the Residences staff.
“The problem is that every court has garbage disposals put in place,” says Lewis in the video. “But the thing is, is that there’s nowhere for them to actually recycle”. After this, Lewis points out the sole spot for recycling in residence area. The remainder of the video is a time lapse of Lewis taking approximately 20 minutes to root through a residence dumpster, in the end nearly filling two wheeled recycling bins.
While he does note the inconvenient location of the recycling bins, most of the language in the video is based around how much recyclable goods Village students are throwing away. Lewis makes the point that it would only help the issue to make recycling receptacles more accessible to students in residence.
According to Lewis, it was after the video’s posting that the trouble for him began, with the reasons for the pending disciplinary action including insubordination and unsafe conduct (in his entering the dumpster in the first place).
In a press release issued by Director of Residences, Jamie Fleming, he stated that they could not comment on the pending disciplinary action.
“With respect to Travis being disciplined (as he has shared that with the media), I cannot share items discussed regarding job performance of any staff”.
Concerning the importance of recycling however, Fleming is in full agreement with Lewis. “As director of Residences at Brock, I wholeheartedly agree that recycling is an important issue. I’m proud to say that we promote recycling in every one of our residence buildings at the University.”
The release continues, listing recycling-relevant statistics for the residences, such as that, “There are more than 3,200 recycling bins of various sizes and colours in our residences; there are about 1,500 bins of various sizes in the Village complex. Every resident student has a recycling bin. There is no custodian staff in the Village; therefore, we ask the Village students to take their portable bins to a central collection location”.
The press release also noted the apparent misrepresentation of the Residences staff’s position in local news coverage so far. Fleming explained that the difficultly in encouraging students to recycle in light of the inconvenience is an ongoing concern for the Residences.
“A recent story in the local newspapers about recycling in Residences at Brock paints our recycling efforts in a negative light […] The Village is a challenging recycling environment for us because of its physical layout. Our main challenge with recycling in this area is getting students to take their recyclables to the main central drop off.”
“We plan to continue exploring ways to increase recycling in all residences at Brock,” said Fleming in the release. “We have many passionate students, like Travis, at the University, so I have confidence that recycling in the Village will improve.”
Lewis, who has considered a “civic duty” for as long as he can remember, plans to continue his efforts, at this point attracting attention from the likes of the Edmonton Sun and the Huffington post.
“I am always going to do what I believe in, I am not going to be a bystander,” said Lewis.