The tragedy of the trash chutes

Jonas Doerr  Opinion Columnist

Back in the day they really let things slide at Gustavus. Or, at least, they let garbage slide down the trash chutes. In many buildings, including Uhler, Complex, and Co-Ed, there still remain chutes that people once could toss their trash bags down. Now, however, those chutes are closed and boarded up with foreboding paper signs.
The ease! The convenience! The calories saved! The trash chutes provided a plethora of benefits. People could carry their trash bag as recently as two years ago to these receptacles and send their garbage into oblivion. Cheery folks strolled down dorm hallways greeting their neighbors with their trash in hand as they headed to the convenient trash chutes.
In some regards, throwing one’s trash down these chutes was like the legendary Cotton Eye Joe: Where did it come from? Where did it go? But for all the innocent trash-chute users these questions were irrelevant. All that mattered was that their garbage disappeared.
Yet no one could have foreseen the tragedy that befell the chutes. A world-wide crisis erupted as COVID-19 emerged. Buildings around America were shut down, and Gusties were sent home. Of course, with no students to use them, the trash chutes stayed quietly shut, but who would have guessed that that would be the last time they were used?
Months passed, and eventually Gusties returned. Imagine the look on their faces when their beloved trash chutes were closed. Perhaps you even were one of them. The agony! The despair! Gusties now had to trek all the way outside to the dumpsters to rid themselves of their overflowing amounts of refuse.
Now Gusties had to deal with all sorts of issues. They had to rouse their stiff legs after hours of Zoom classes to make it out to the dumpster. They had to endure the embarrassing gazes of strangers as they toted their trash. Worst of all, they had to put on shoes.
Not all Gusties were up to this new challenge. Soon signs appeared above bathroom garbage cans. “Please take to-go containers to outside dumpsters.” “Please dispose of only paper towels in this garbage can.” Some unhappy residents apparently started putting their room trash in the bathroom garbages, which wreaked havoc on the collection system. Trash cans were overflowing left and right, and fines were threatened to be enforced, but no culprits could be found.
More signs were put up, and emails were sent out, but the overflowing trash bins remain a problem to this day. Apparently the added effort of carrying trash out to the dumpsters has overwhelmed some students, who can only manage to take it to the bathroom.
Another result of the closing of the trash chutes is that some Gustie rooms began to smell. Without the easy dump off, it became simpler to allow trash to collect in the small can in each room until the last possible moment. While the method possibly saved effort, it caused suspect odors to start to fill some of those unlucky rooms.
Meanwhile, the trash chutes perhaps looked to gain some manner of revenge. Rumors of ghosts started floating around buildings, including Uhler Hall. The deserted trash chutes were clearly the perfect home for a roaming ghost. Without the constant worry of trash bags falling on their insubstantial noggins the ghosts have found the perfect place to live.
All this may have Gusties wondering, “Will our treasured trash chutes be returned to us?” Unfortunately, the answer appears to be a definitive “No”. According to Physical Plant, the trash chutes are not supposed to be used and will not be used in the future. It seems that taking trash out to the dumpsters is the modus operandi from here on out, which leaves the beloved trash chutes with no purpose.
While this may seem like trash, do not give up hope. If we chute our shot with the higher-ups, perhaps we can get them reopened. Surely it would make no sense to have the chutes take up space entirely uselessly in many dorms, so why should we not use them? Clearly it would be tragic if we lost these beloved relics forever. Our trash chutes are not a blessing to throw away.

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