As Temples off campus housing continues to grow, the neighborhood surrounding the campus has seen an increase in student renters. As students move in and out each summer and throughout each semester, trash and the fines associated with litter have grown exponentially. Philadelphia’s Sanitation Department employs SWEEP, (Streets, Walkways, Education and Enforcement Program) a division dedicated to enforcing and educating proper trash disposal, litter control, and recycling throughout the city of Philadelphia. SWEEP actively patrols Temples neighborhood and aims to educate students on ways to ensure the community is kept clean.
Kenneth Withers, a SWEEP officer who patrols Temple’s neighborhoods, sees first-hand the effects of both proper enforcement and education when dealing with student trash violations. Withers states his job isn’t about handing out fines and being burdensome, but rather to educate people about proper disposal of trash and recyclables and ensure streets are clean, orderly, and respectable. On a normal route as a SWEEP officer, Withers looks for violations and teaching opportunities. He says, “What we are looking for when we come out is that the sidewalk is litter free, and on collection day people are recycling and putting their collectibles out the way they are supposed to be placed”. Improperly secured trash leads to a large amount of litter that gets caught in the wind, thus adding to an already problematic trash epidemic.
Students are encouraged to learn about SWEEP regulations and make sure they are properly putting out their trash and recycling, as well as regularly clearing the sidewalk outside of their property of litter. Failure to do so may result in a $50 fine and an education opportunity from a SWEEP officer much like Mr. Withers. As Temple Junior Cameron Jordan says, “If everyone put their trash out on the right days, and everyone didn’t just litter, (our neighborhood) would look pretty decent”.