Clean Up Your S**t

Ben Haller discusses the problem of leaving public spaces at NYU Shanghai messy.

Musical instruments, old calculus textbooks, cans of oatmeal, cafeteria trays, and a still-wrapped McDonalds fish sandwich. And no, just in case you’re wondering, that’s not a random list of things found at a dump. That’s a list of just a few things I’ve seen in NYU Shanghai’s common spaces, whether it be the common rooms, Mac labs, or study rooms. Sometimes the clutter is merely a small inconvenience but sometimes it’s just downright gross, especially when food is involved. I mean I can kind of understand a half-eaten fish sandwich. You were hungry, but not too hungry, and were just too lazy to through the rest away. Still not acceptable, but I get it. But a still-wrapped, uneaten sandwich? Who buys a sandwich, doesn’t eat it, and then just leaves it in a study room? Why? Why!?! And that’s just one absurd example of the problem.

I was prompted to write this article after it was brought to my attention that there were several incidents of people leaving their cafeteria trays with food on them in the Mac labs. Some people were wondering if this was some sort of cultural thing (i.e. in China you don’t have to put away your tray at fast-food places, etc.) or if people are just being inconsiderate. Personally, I would chalk it up to the latter. I don’t know of any culture that promotes people just leaving their stuff wherever they feel like it. I think the golden rule, do onto others as you would like done unto you, applies nicely to this situation. Or should I say, if you don’t want day-old niu rou la mian sitting next to you while you work in the Mac lab, then don’t leave your niu rou la mian in the Mac lab.

So just remember, next time you sit in a common room, look things up in the Mac lab, or study in one of the study rooms, someone else is going to use that space after you. Leave it looking as though you were never there. I know this seems like common sense, but I wouldn’t be typing this out right now if it was. There’s nothing inherently wrong with “making yourself at home” at NYUSH, but with the possible exception of midterms and finals, the Academic Building is not your home.  Go back to the dorms or to your apartment with your belongings and get some rest. I can assure you that your bed is far more comfortable than the yellow couches, Health & Wellness beanbags, or those orange cubicle seats that we’ve all tried to take a nap in at least once. Your belongings will also be far safer in your own possession than sitting on one of the shelves in the 5th floor common area. If everyone does their part cleaning up after themselves, then I promise you’ll be able to use a Mac unperturbed by old cafeteria food and you’ll be able to find a study room without clutter or McDonald’s fish sandwiches. Amen to that.

This article was written by Ben Haller. Please send an email to to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Paula Velasquez Lau

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