University of Massachusetts fraternities and sororities offer to clean up streets after weekend partying
AMHERST — When residents of neighborhoods between the University of Massachusetts campus and downtown wake up on Sunday mornings, they often find remnants of the previous night’s partying — empty beer bottles, discarded pizza boxes and other trash strewn along the streets.
But some members of the university’s 40 sororities and fraternities are taking it upon themselves next month to cleanup after their classmates to mend fences with fed-up townspeople.
The Council of Panhellenic Sororities and the Interfraternity Council are launching what is called the Neighborhood Clean-up Campaign, which begins April 7 and is expected to continue most Sundays through the end of the semester. The work will be done between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“We hope this new campaign is one that will be only growing bigger and stronger year to year in response to what the town of Amherst would like to see,” said Alex Cembalisty, president of the Interfraternity Council.
Cembalisty, a member of Alpha Tau Gamma, said there will be seven zones for volunteers from sororities and fraternities to focus on at the end of each weekend.
These will include Phillips Street and Nutting Avenue, Lincoln Avenue between Amity and Fearing streets, North Pleasant Street between Massachusetts Avenue and McClellan Street, North Pleasant Street adjacent to Kendrick Park, Hallock Street, North Prospect Street and Cowles Lane, and McClellan Street and Sunset Avenue.
The plan for cleaning up the streets grew out of a meeting Cembalisty, Olivia Pijanowski, president of the sororities council, and fraternity council graduate assistant adviser Kristen Kardas had with town officials to see what services students could offer.
Kardas said the volunteers are looking to enhance the community they call home.
“This was totally generated by the students. They wanted to do something for the town,” Kardas said.
Cembalisty said people join fraternities and sororities to make friendships through brotherhood and sisterhood, but they also want to do community service and undertake charitable efforts.
Select Board Chairwoman Stephanie O’Keeffe was one of the officials who met with the student leaders along with Town Manager John Musante, Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek and Health Director Julie Federman.
“This is a really direct way the students are being responsible to neighborhood concerns and very literally cleaning up after themselves and their peers,” she said.
O’Keeffe said she hopes residents will appreciate the goodwill. “This addresses concerns people have about litter and messiness that follows the weekend.”
She said the students’ offer does not surprise her, as the Greek community has demonstrated their service orientation in the past. She pointed out that about 200 members annually serve as volunteers during the Shelter Sunday event that raises money to support programs like the Amherst Survival Center.
At least 10 members of each sorority and fraternity will participate during the weekend they are assigned, Cembalisty said.
All supplies needed for the cleanup, such as trash bags, will be provided by the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils.
Cembalisty said he encourages residents who see the students near their homes to talk to them and greet them so they can become acquainted.