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OPP, Spring Cleaning to the Extreme

While spring cleaning for most entails dusting, packing, and tidying up, Penn State’s OPP is cursed with a much bigger mess.

Each winter, State College is slammed with an unholy mixture of treacherous wind, sleet and and snow. According to a recent StateCollege.com article, over 41 inches of snow fell on Penn State’s campus this season. This accounts for almost $1.2 million in removal costs for the university.

If you think walking to class in sub-arctic temperatures sucks, imagine having to scour the campus for everything mother nature decided to screw up. With a combination of record breaking ice accumulation and the devilish deeds of our beloved squirrel population, OPP workers have their work cut out for them.

Over 15,500 trees on campus mean that the burdens of winter can add up. After trimming and pruning, maintenance workers must forage up the fallen branches and debris that accumulate over months of being nature’s bitch.

At the same times, there are over 2,500 flowers that must be watered and fertilized, so when the sun finally comes they will be ready to blossom.

Plant life isn’t the only problem on OPP’s mind. They have to worry about the furry woodland creatures that inhabit Centre County. Burrowing animals damage outdoor decor like benches and picnic areas. Those damaged areas must be restored, as with road signs that are knocked over in the snow removal process.

Sadly, the university doesn’t have the simple joys of the students in mind while doing all of these menial maintenance tasks. It’s all for graduation. Not for the outgoing seniors, but for their financially generous parents.

“As parents come in, we want our campus to have its best foot forward,” said Paul Ruskin, the spokesman for OPP.

The psychology department didn’t discover some monumental correlation between how pretty Penn State looks and the overall happiness of the student body. They want the people who are paying tuition to think everything looks great.

I can respect that. They’re the ones paying the bill, may as well make it look like their investment is going toward something more than a piece of paper.

From fertilizing and seeding grassy areas to sprucing up campus property that may have been damaged, OPP takes each inch of campus and gets it into shape for spring. But besides sprucing up, they also salvage up to 60 tons of forgotten junk in the Trash to Treasure program. Old TVs and printers abandoned in dorms are donated to the United Way for one massive yard sale that generates over $50,000 for charity. The idea is revolutionary as it reduces waste removal costs and at the same time raises money for a good cause.

Other universities have caught on. Now most public colleges with on-campus living have similar programs.

This is just one way that OPP is attempting to blend sustainability and philanthropy. As Ruskin nicely put it, “once again Penn State is leading the way.”

You keep making Penn State look spiffy, OPP. Each winter we will be pounded by winter’s worst. We’ll be slipping on icy sideways as we get to class. We’ll bundle up under layers of fleece and knit hats.

But once we get a solid streak of 60 degree weather, we’ll all be dreaming of a pristine spring day. We’ll be imagining sun-bathing on the HUB lawn or drinking a cold beer outside. And when that day comes-forecasts are looking good-we’ll be counting on you, OPP, to have campus looking neat and picturesque.

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