Greek life at Central Michigan University established a “Greeks Clean up the Streets” program designed to beautify the community and improve relations between Greek students and Mount Pleasant residents.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother Jon Reusch, a Macomb senior, and Jeff Pickler, code enforcement officer for the city of Mount Pleasant, were responsible for setting up the group.
Reusch said the main idea of the program is “to improve the image and increase positive awareness of what Greek life can do by providing a service for the community of Mount Pleasant.”
Jeff Pickler, who has worked as the city’s code enforcement officer for more than 14 years, said “This isn’t a one-time litter pick-up. This is going to be an ongoing relationship with students and the community, and we’re very excited about it.”
The first clean-up took place after St. Patrick’s Day on March 18. A group of about 40 volunteers from Greek sororities and fraternities met in the Grawn Hall parking lot at 2 p.m. They then divided into groups of about four people and set out to clean Main, Douglas, University, Franklin, High and Washington streets.
Those who participated received vests, gloves and plastic bags that were provided by the city for clean-up duties. Also on hand were cookies and bottled water for everyone involved.
Both Reusch and Pickler said they were more than happy with the number of volunteers who showed up to help out.
“We were looking for 20 to 24 people when we started, and we definitely exceeded that,” Pickler said. “It was an excellent turnout for our first event.”
Reusch said he recruited volunteers by speaking during group meetings such as the Panhellenic Council and through Greek Force. He said he received a lot of positive feedback.
“They’re extremely excited to do good for the community and to clean up the area they live in,” he said.
Jacob Kobylarz, a sophomore from Westland and a member of Sigma Tau Gamma, said he came out to help because it was such a nice day, and volunteering for the program was an easy way to make a big difference. He also said he hopes the program relieves any tension there may be between Greek life and residents of Mount Pleasant.
“I feel like Greeks have been getting a bad rap lately by having too much fun partying and not showing respect to the community, so I feel like this is a good way to reach out and show we care,” Kobylarz said.
Pickler said sometimes people unfairly associate negative ideas about the Greek community, and this was a great way for them to see positive impacts.
“This is something where we can visually see improvement, and we can see the accomplishment of a cleaner neighborhood,” he said.
Pickler said the “Greeks Clean up the Streets” program will hopefully work to form a stronger relationship among Greek life, code enforcement, office of public works and the police.
“Students will actually get to meet city representatives in a positive manner, so they can put a face to the name, and hopefully this will develop trust and make a better working relationship,” he said.
The program is planned to continue to meet for the rest of the semester and most likely into following semesters. The dates for the meetings will be Saturday and on April 22, 29 and May 6. They will all begin at 1 p.m. in the Grawn parking lot and are open to anyone who wants to help.