Mounting trash along the Central Canal Trail adjacent to Butler University grew so large that it could no longer be ignored.
Nathan Holt, president of Sigma Nu, said he received a complaint from an anonymous student through Becky Druetzler, director of Greek life, about the trash on the hill behind the Sigma Nu fraternity house.
Holt said he had already planned on cleaning the hill last Sunday, and Druetzler’s email that included a picture of the mess only encouraged him
Druetzler declined to discuss the nature of the complaint with The Collegian.
Alex Tallentire, the housing manager of Sigma Nu, said the reason the trash piled up was because it was hard to see without walking to the bottom of the hill in the backyard.
“Not to make an excuse,” Tallentire said, “but from inside the house, you cannot see the bottom of the hill where the trash collected.”
Tallentire said it was even harder to see the trash from inside the house during the fall because of the fallen leaves.
On Sunday Holt organized a group of 30 to 40 Sigma Nu members to pick up the trash.
Tallentire said the steep grade of the hill in the backyard posed numerous challenges that some brothers couldn’t handle.
“We used ropes,” Tallentire said. “We tied ourselves to the trees and moved down the hill picking up trash. Some brothers did not participate because they were not physically capable.”
Tallentire said those who did participate had to suffer the elements.
“I ruined a pair of shoes today (Sunday) on that hill,” Tallentire said.
“Yeah, look at my hand, I got some wounds,” Holt said, showing his hand that was cut.
Holt said the brothers found trash that was more than five years old.
As a result, Holt said he plans to fine brothers who litter on Sigma Nu property and clean it up on a regular basis.
Jeremy Stewart, president of the Butler Tarkington Neighborhood Association, said if the trash were to ever enter the canal, the ramifications could be much worse.
Kevin Bennett, the manager of fleet and facility services for Citizens Energy Group, which owns and maintains the canal, said about 60 percent of Indianapolis’ water supply comes from the canal.
Bennett said that while he has never been contacted about the area of the canal that runs adjacent to Butler, his employer is constantly picking up trash, clearing vegetation and removing the occasional crashed car from the water.
Bennett said a big problem is that people dump trash into the canal in areas that are not very visible. Bennett said the area by the canal at Butler is not visible, especially when compared to the part in Broad Ripple.
Despite the concerns about possible litter and trash polluting the canal, Kyle Hoff, president of Delta Tau Delta at Butler, said his chapter made the decision to wait to pick up the trash behind that house.
Hoff said he did have plans to pick it up soon.
“As soon as the weather turns (warmer),” Hoff said. “You have to understand, it’s the steepest hill I’ve ever been on, and it’s rocky and very difficult (to clean) in the cold weather.”
Hoff said that while Delta Tau Delta’s property is currently messier than he would like, he is not aware of any complaints about how it looks.
Hoff said his fraternity has a good reputation because it picks up the mess three or four times a year.
Hoff said that while the trash was picked up twice in the fall, it has not been picked up this semester.
An increased effort on the part of Butler students to keep campus clean could pay off in the long run.
Gerald Carlson, director of maintenance services at Butler, said that Butler is planning to hire a new executive director of maintenance later this spring.
Carlson said there has been talk within his department of providing students with more opportunities for recreation on the canal.
Carlson said developing a way for students to canoe on the canal is a real possibility if the new executive director and university president Jim Danko’s administration choose to go that direction.