OPINION: Let’s keep our residence halls clean

Coming to NC State, my expectations for dorm life were pretty low. The thought of sharing a space with another person and showering among strangers in college, while normalized, seemed less than ideal. Although the bar was never high to begin with, I never expected to encounter blood stains on the bathroom floor and a poop-smeared toilet seat — yes, you read that right. And really, no one should ever have to experience that.

The Community Standards under University Housing places the responsibility for the upkeep of dorms and apartments on housekeeping. This means that residents are not required to clean up after themselves per say, but custodians should not have to bear the brunt of our mess. After all, housekeeping works hard enough and is not on standby at all hours of the day, so we must rise to the task.

Hopefully, it’s obvious to some of us why cleanliness is important. When we clean, we not only avoid germs, grime and the occasional pest but also create a space that is pleasing to the eye. Yet, there is another less obvious benefit which is perhaps just as, if not more, important: improved mental health.

Our mental well-being may reflect the state of our environment. In a study published by Princeton neuroscientists, a messy environment overwhelms our visual cortex with stimuli, interfering with our ability to focus and process information related to pertinent tasks. Other negative effects of clutter include increased feelings of tension, stress, and a sense of loss of control.

OPINION: Let’s keep our residence halls clean

However, the mental pros of maintaining an organized, clean space far outweigh the cons of a cluttered one. For instance, cleaning can uplift your mood by reducing feelings of stress, instilling feelings of calm, and heightening your attention span. As an added bonus, maintaining a neat environment does not have to be complicated, especially when there are many hands available to aid the process.

Approximately 45,000 students, faculty and staff makeup the vast NC State community. Whether you live in a traditional-style dorm, a suite, an apartment on campus or none of the above, we owe it to ourselves and each other to sustain a healthy and clean coexistence. Every person at NC State, regardless of major, grade or role, has the power to contribute to the upkeep of our school. With enough participation, we can do just that.

Lucky for us, there are several quick and effortless ways to create clean spaces. The best and easiest place to start is with our own individual mess. If something spills or falls on the floor, clean it up, or if your poop gets on the toilet seat — though gross — please do everyone the courtesy of cleaning it up. This will also prevent a perfectly functional stall from not being used.

Though it’s unfortunate, not everyone is willing to make the minuscule commitment to taking care of their mess. Sometimes we’ll find other people’s trash laying on the floor or, as is the case in my dorm, bathrooms with paper towels overflowing disposal bins and spilling out into the hallway. Although it’s not ideal, try to pick up whatever trash you come across and stuff it into a trash can that is not already filled to the brim.

Another good practice is to limit the amount of trash we produce in the first place. Not only does waste reduction decrease the amount of cleaning involved but it also promotes sustainability. This could look like using less toilet paper or paper towels when we go to the bathroom, utilizing reusable bags for shopping and refillable water bottles instead of plastic ones.

In addition to cleaning up after yourself, take a moment to thank those who typically do that work. This week is International Housekeepers & Environmental Services Week, which honors custodial workers across the globe.

Although NC State is considered home for many of us, that doesn’t mean we have the luxury of doing whatever we want. Because it's a home that we share with others, we each have a duty to maintain it. So please, let’s all do our small part to make a big difference, or at least, make sure our poop actually goes in the toilet.