An open letter addressed to the editor and published in the South Wales Evening Post has sparked outrage amongst students of Swansea University.

The letter in question, which attacks students for littering on campus, was written by Mr R Stroud and published on the 31st March 2012. He spoke of his belief that during the hot weather last week the lawn outside Fulton House had been “a disgrace”, and that on occasions it was “ankle deep in litter with students lying among the debris”.

“Also, litter is strewn all around the campus again costing the university thousands of pounds to clear.”

“Why do they show such contempt for their university campus and for the environment in general?”

Comments by Mr Stroud about the littering on Swansea University campus

Students were quick to respond, with many stating that Mr Stroud’s comments were unfair and potentially damaging to the efforts that Swansea University and its students are currently taking to improve its environmental reputation.

Lewis Crompton is in his third year studying Computer Science at Swansea and gave his thoughts on the accusations published in the Evening Post.

“I completely agree that leaving litter on the lawn is unacceptable however the claims Mr. Stroud is making are just not true,” he said.

“Unfortunately people do leave rubbish on the lawn but at no point has the rubbish been ankle deep.

“It irritates me but as a student I can appreciate it’s only a few cups or bottles left behind from enjoying an afternoon in the sun. Mr Stroud would have the reader believe we are happy to sit in rubbish and I feel this only serves to tarnish the student reputation in Swansea.”

Ruthie Oldham is studying for a BSc in Health and Social Care, and commented on the irony of the timing of the letter’s publication.

“I did find it ironic in the same day there were two articles; one deeming students a disgrace and then a review singing the praises of The Tempest, a production put together entirely by students.

“The man [Mr Stroud] mentions visiting the Taliesin, a venue that the same theatre group [Shoreline] will be using next month to perform “No Exit” and “Scary Play”. I wonder if he will still feel students are a disgrace after those performances!”

“Ankle deep in litter” – Fulton Lawn on Tuesday evening

Welfare Officer Charlotte Britton expressed her concern over the damaging claims against students.

“I’ve personally never seen any part of campus ‘ankle-deep’ in rubbish, and would be interested to know when exactly it looked like this,” she said.

“Myself and our student volunteers regularly do street cleans of our local community, and often clean up after large events on campus too. It’s regrettable that sometimes there’s a bit of litter on campus, but I’ve always thought it was cleaner than places with a comparably similar footfall like areas of the town centre.

“Our students certainly care about the environment. The Students’ Union has led on environmental issues, and recently we won the Gold award for the NUS Green Impact Scheme due to our hard work. As students, we have been consistently encouraging the university to take the environment more seriously for years.

“If Mr Stroud and his wife would like to join us on one of our community street cleans he is more than welcome, as he obviously cares a great deal.”

Student and part-time Environment and Ethics Officer Rob Abrams was also keen to correct the negative portrayal of students and their apparent lack of respect for the environment.

“Last Tuesday evening, I was standing outside of Fulton House taking photographs of the sheer amount of rubbish left on the lawn in amazement. I was so amazed because the strewn plastic cups, cans, and wrappers simply did not reflect the students I have come to know and be inspired by in my time so far at Swansea University.

“As much as I am upset about the litter situation on campus, I am also extremely disheartened by any allegation that students at Swansea University do not care about their environment.

“Throughout the last year or so, the Students’ Union’s full-time Welfare Officer, Charlotte Britton, has maintained a positive relationship with local community groups such as ‘Keep Swansea Tidy’. The student involvement in this group’s litter-pickings has been instrumental in demonstrating to the local community the strong environmental concern of local students.”

Mr Abrams and other students involved in improving the environmental performance of the university have asked for students to be more aware of their surroundings and to put their litter in the bin before they leave campus.

Swansea University was recently awarded the EcoCampus Silver Award for its efforts to improve its environmental performance, and Swansea University Student’s Union is now rated Gold in the National Union of Student’s Green Impact award scheme.

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