By Sarah Mayhew
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Red plastic cups, mostly empty beer bottles, napkins and food wrappers litter North Tyndall Avenue and alleys around the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house.
The problem, say employees of the neighboring University of Arizona Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, is bad.
They have talked to ZBT presidents and members over the years, they have called the Greek Life director and assistant director, and they have called Tucson Councilwoman Molly McKasson. Yesterday, they called the Tucson Sanitation Department.
Helen Ingram, director of the Udall Center, 803 and 811 E. First St., said the sanitation inspectors were a last resort.
"I've called everybody I know to call," she said.
While the sanitation inspector declined to issue a citation this time, Lucy Valdez, the sanitation inspector supervisor, said the fraternity received a warning and will be cited if the department receives another complaint.
"They were warned that if this continues they will be issued a citation," Valdez said.
All of the fraternity's trash does not fit in the city garbage bin, so members pile it around the bin until the next garbage day, said ZBT president David Perlmutter.
Trash surrounding the bin yesterday morning was not placed in bags and had blown around the neighborhood. Perlmutter said the city collected the garbage Monday. "We're not criminals," Perlmutter said. "Sometimes our trash blows in the wind, but that's it."
Still, others say the trash problem is not a new one.
Ingram said the fraternity has failed to properly throw trash into the city bin since the center opened in 1987.
"One cannot be too outraged about this," Ingram said.
Edwin Fields, a Udall Center office worker, said he talked to Perlmutter about the problem in January and the fraternity kept the area clean for about two weeks. Yesterday morning, he decided to call the city after talking failed to solve anything.
"I was sick of the smell," Fields said.
Ingram has a file of letters from past ZBT presidents stating that the garbage would be cleaned. One of the letters said that the trash was outside of the garbage bin because homeless people rifle through the trash, throwing it on the ground.
The sanitation department cannot pick up trash that is outside of the bins because of city regulations, Valdez said.
Dan Maxwell, UA greek life assistant director, said all his department can do is educate the fraternity members about sanitation and proper trash disposal and mediate between the fraternity and its neighbors. Fraternities are on private property and have individual sanitation contracts with the city, not the university.
If a problem with trash around a fraternity or sorority house continues after that chapter's leadership and the neighbors have discussed the problem, the neighbors should go to the city for help, Maxwell said.
"It's probably their best bet," he said. "This is not a case that I would see going through the greek judicial board (because it is not a greek life code of conduct violation.)"
ZBT house manager David Ehrlich said the fraternity is dealing with the problem internally. Read Next Article