VIEWPOINT Rats Find Home in Henle Cups By Charles Martorana and Bryan Stockton

So, I stepped on a rat the other day. I was walking up the steps into the Henle fishbowl when I took a step, heard a shrill cry and felt something jump up at my shorts. I shrieked too, and I looked down to find a small, furry creature on its back writhing its paws in agony.”

That was Charlie’s first leg-to-tail encounter with a rat. We have heard them countless times running through the bushes outside Copley late at night but have never before had the opportunity to become so closely acquainted.

Out in the woods, this would be understandable. Henle, however, is our natural habitat, not the rat’s – or so we thought.

Sadly, we have a sneaking suspicion of why rodents feel so welcome: the general state of squalor in which we carry on our everyday lives at this university. This is not another one of those whiny commentaries on the ineffectiveness of the administration or something like that. The rat gave us a wake-up call – a call that needs to be pealed from Healy clock tower.

The uncaring attitude toward our campus is pervasive and indicative of a greater lack of understanding with regard to other people. The emphasis on the self is as unmistakable as it is unfortunate. Rodney Dangerfield could have been speaking for our campus when he said, “I don’t get no respect.”

Georgetown is a big little place; that’s part of its charm. Forget six degrees of separation, for us it’s about one. People know each other and see friends and acquaintances around campus daily. The fact that we can all live in our own little world without considering the consequences of everyday actions is shocking.

While smashing benches in a drunken reverie may seem fun at the time, you are smashing part of our campus too. When you leave your cup outside my stairwell door, who do you think is going to clean it up? When you knock a garbage can full of empty beer cans down three flights of stairs in New South, who do you think is going to clean it up?

Not us.

The general disregard toward the campus community is reflected in author Douglas Adams’s ingenious concept of SEP, Somebody Else’s Problem. A SEP is something our brain does not let us see because we think it’s somebody else’s problem. We just block it out of our consciousness, like we’ve learned to do for so long. But we all live here, so no one can say that it’s somebody else’s problem.

Don’t get us wrong, we look forward to enjoying our weekend as much as the next person. Some of you may have even run into one of us. But we don’t look forward to wallowing in filth after a “rockin'” night. It’s a bad sign when people treat the number of cups they have to wade through on a Saturday morning as a badge of honor.

A survey of campus rodents finds that two out of three rats have lived in a cup within the last two months. These rats – and we’re talking about big rats – prefer Henle cups to any other living environment. And it would only take a simple trip to the recycling bin to deter most of our rodent friends.

It’s all about attitude. It goes from the bottom up and the top down. At the start of freshman year, an RAs monotonous admonition that “the Georgetown University Code of Conduct requires you to dispose of all trash in the cans at the end of the hall and D.C. law requires you to recycle” is not enough.

To paraphrase Tupac, it’s time for us as a campus to start making some changes. We need to change the way we live and we need to change the way we treat each other. The old way isn’t working, and the rats couldn’t be happier.

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