Annual event spruces up campus

With summer right around the corner and incoming freshmen swarming campus, it’s important that South Dakota State looks presentable. That was the goal of Spruce Up SDSU Day.

What started out as a simple idea has grown into an annual affair. Spruce Up SDSU Day, put on by the dean of Engineering, Lewis Brown is going on six years of cleaning up campus.

Brown started the event for a specific reason – to keep campus presentable.

“The snow banks would recede and it would leave embarrassing litter on campus. This is a high recruitment time of year for freshmen and their family members,” Brown said.

Because of the high recruitment that takes place in the spring semester, Brown found that the litter that was left was unflattering on campus and something should be done.

And that’s how it began. The purpose of the event was to pick up litter on campus and bring together students with campus employees to celebrate spring.

The initial vision of the event was for Brown and some students to clean around the engineering areas, including Administration, Lincoln Hall and the Library, which are buildings without student organizations.

Afterwards, the group grilled hot dogs and held a social, which became an annual event.

According to Brown, this year’s event had the biggest turnout yet, with at least a dozen groups. “I’m hoping it continues to grow,” he said.

In order to gain more volunteers, Brown invited Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Laurie Nichols to do the kickoff.

“We should take pride in our university, including its appearance.  When we take care of our campus, it looks nicer and is cleaner for all to enjoy,” Nichols said.

With the small amount of snow this year, there was little trash to be cleaned up around campus, but that didn’t stop volunteers from tidying up.

“In many people’s eyes, aesthetics matter.  When something such as our campus is appealing, tidy and cared for, it is perceived much more positively than when it is messy, untidy and run-down,” Nichols said.

In the upcoming years, Brown hopes the event will continue to grow, maybe even to the Brookings community.

Brown is looking into getting the city involved and somehow the schools around Brookings.

Even though the event revolves around Earth Day and keeping campus clean, Brown and the engineering students originally started it out as a celebration of spring.

“I prefer it stays spontaneous. It’s a social thing for us and spending more time celebrating Spring than cleaning up with our large group,” he said.

 This year Facilities and Services supported Spruce Up SDSU Day by supplying trash bags and gloves for all volunteers. The Union provided a sound system for the kick off.

 With only six years in, the turnout has grown substantially each year. Brown hopes that next year will be no different.

 “It started out as a simple idea and it has become bigger than I ever imagined,” Brown said.