UGA tailgaters warned to clean up their trash

Athens -- Whole tailgate tents left half-standing. Abandoned portable grills. Urination in campus doorways. Defecation. Trash strewn everywhere.

These are the conditions early risers are encountering when they venture onto the University of Georgia campus for a Sunday morning stroll or drive the day after a Georgia football game. UGA President Michael Adams was just such a person after the South Carolina game this past weekend and he was appalled by what he saw.

"I came through here on my way to church early Sunday morning and it was a disgrace the way the campus was left," said Adams, speaking to media after a UGA Presidential Cabinet meeting on Thursday. "I have had hundreds of contacts and the students and the alumni are upset. We need some help from them and from our fans and from our media outlets before the next home game and see if we can't find ways" to fix the problem.

"We can probably do our job better than we've been doing but this is one we need to work together on."

Adams said clean-up crews picked up some 70 tons of trash after Georgia's home opener Saturday against South Carolina. The university plans to distribute extra trash bags and increase the number of trash and recyclable containers for the next home game against Arizona State on Sept. 26. But Adams said more considerate behavior from a smaller sector of fans was probably the more important change.

"There were tons and tons of trash and lots of inappropriate behavior that most of our fans don't like or tolerate," he said.  "It's not pervasive. I don't know if it's 15 or 20 percent, but it is a substantial enough group. But if you're going to haul all this stuff in for pregame, why not add a recyclable bag or two and either take it with you or put it on the side of the street where the appropriate people can take it away?

This is not the first time the trashing of campus during football games has become an issue. Three years ago a similar public relations effort was unleashed to help improve the game-day environment on campus.

But the problem continued and actually might have worsened recently with the SEC's new television contract creating more night matchups of rival opponents.

"What happened last week is typical," said George Stafford, UGA's associate vice president for auxiliary and administrative services. "It takes 200 to 300 people on Sunday morning to pick up and bag up all the trash, throw it on a truck and haul it out to the landfill. A typical day game produces 35 to 40 tons of trash. A night SEC game like this we have 70 or more tons."

Stafford said last year's "Blackout Game" against Alabama produced a record 75 tons of trash on campus.

"I think it reached a low after that game," said Doc Eldridge, president of the Chamber of Commerce and a former mayor of Athens. "It's pretty incredible, particularly after a big game, after a late game, the conditions they leave campus and the downtown district in. I've been here my whole life, been a citizen, been the mayor, been at the chamber, and we can do better than this. I'm glad it's getting some attention."

"New media" helped bring the problem to the forefront this time. It started with The Red and Black, the student newspaper, publishing a story and pictures on Monday showing the same area of North Campus before, during and after this past Saturday's game. That created a firestorm of reaction that was further fueled by people posting personal accounts and pictures on Facebook and Twitter.

“It was just shocking to see the aftermath,” said Andy Carter, 37, who works at the UGA Library and only recently moved to Athens."It seems to be more of a grass-roots movement this time," Adams said.Adams sent a subtle warning that there are other measures the university can take if behaviors do not improve. The city's open-container law is not enforced south of Broad Street on game days and police are generally more tolerant than they would be the other 358 days of the year.""We don't want to get a reputation like a British soccer crowd," Adams said. "I don't want to start arresting people or have a heavy police presence. We simply ask people to spend a little more time to maintain our campus."I'm pretty hopeful [that won't be necessary] because I think it's not just us out-of-touch administrators that are concerned. The students, alumni and faculty have all raised concerns. I hope we'll get some help out of our fans this time."

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