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May 25, 2010

Junk City BTV: The Exodus Chronicles

IMG_4845 UPDATE #1: A word from Code Enforcement about college student move out here.

UPDATE #2: A word from Chittenden Solid Waste District about college student move out  here.

It's that time of year again, kids. The time when the college students move out of their college ghetto. It's a joyous time for me, really. Their exodus means that I can feel free to walk my dog on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning without the fear of stepping in a pond-sized puddle of barf courtesy of the binging revelers that most college students seem to become on the weekend.

(I can't believe someone's giving that beauty of a couch away.)

But their speedy exit (many have already loaded up their Range Rovers and headed to their parents' beach house) also means that the city's greenbelts are loaded with shit. Not the kind that comes from bums, though on occasion I have seen human poo on the college ghetto sidewalk. No, I mean the kind of shit that people don't want anymore — busted floor lamps, rickety papasan chairs, futon mattresses with all manner of stains on them.

I'm not sure about you, but I hate this. That's probably because I'm an old person and hate the reverie and freewheelingness that comes with having no responsibilities.

  5-24-10 024
Photo of recliner stuck in tree courtesy of Bill Ward, Director of Code Enforcement. 

  I get having to move out quickly and figure out what to do with all the stuff you don't need or want. It's not like I haven't been evicted from an apartment or three. But it's not like the students are at all surprised that come June 1, they need to have peaced out of their tenement houses. Yet every year around this time, they're scrambling to get their detritus dealt with. And don't try to tell me that they're busy studying because we all know that ain't happenin'.

On a quick tour of my Old North End neighborhood, I found a Laz-E-Boy chair with no back in a driveway, a pair of soiled jeans in the gutter and enough chipboard furniture entrails to construct a small home. Now, this isn't stuff anyone wants — it's litter. I can see putting a serviceable futon frame on the greenbelt, because no doubt someone will come and pick it up. In fact, I've done it myself. When I was a student in Washington, D.C., I left a set of nightstands (solid wood, no embarrassing South of the Border stickers) next to my building. The next day, they were gone. It saved me the effort of taking them to the Goodwill. In that way, my discarding was mutually beneficial.

But basically, a lot of what is left is garbage — garbage that someone else will have to clean up. While Christy Collegestudent is baking (or getting baked) in Cabo with her girlfriends, her former slumlord has to hire someone to haul the pile of magazines, high heels and stolen beer signs to the dump.

Some do make an effort. Yesterday, I overheard a girl standing amid a pile of desk chairs, husband pillows and stained tapestries say to her roommate, "Um, like, how do you order a Dumpster?" That's a start. The next day, all their junk was gone. But perhaps if Burlington Police Department actually issued those $500 illegal dumping tickets, my neighborhood and yours wouldn't look like a landfill. Just a thought from your curmudgeonly friend, me.

For your viewing pleasure: the college ghetto.

I think UVM and Champlain College could do more, and here's how they can do it without spending one dime:
Just have your distinguished commencement speaker announce that nobody's getting their diploma until all that sh*t is picked up!
"Now get out of here and get to work, we'll reconvene tomorrow morning."

These students don't just leave furniture and garbage behind, they abandon a lot of pets, too. They pick up a kitten or puppy to enjoy the companionship for the duration of their college years, then it's too much trouble to move the animal back with them to wherever. Most rescue organizations will not adopt out to college students in temporary housing, but it's unfortunately very easy to find free, unwanted animals. Craigslist is full of them.

It's important for landlords and neighbors to know that many people who neglect/abandon animals can be investigated and charged with this crime. For more information you can call your local humane society or contact the Vermont Animal Cruelty Task Force (

Here is an explanation of what constitutes neglect/abandonment in Vermont:

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