This year’s annual shuffle of students in the Westdale-Ainslie Wood area was not the best showing for McMaster undergrads.

Anyone who walked through the neighbourhoods saw a variety of eyesores on May 1: old mattresses on the side of the road, extra bags of garbage, leftover furniture and other abandoned items. Judging by the eye test, two in five houses on Dalewood South had a by-law violation notice posted on their door following the first garbage pick-up day of the month.

As students moved out, they left the area in disarray, giving more ammunition to the residents who disdain the McMaster undergrad population. And it is hard to disagree with them.

Students complain about the amount of pushback we get from residents and this paper has generally agreed that we have an unfairly negative reputation. But the garbage left behind for others to deal with is exactly what earns us the label of “entitled” or “disrespectful.”

The behavior is not as malicious as it seems, but needs to be fixed. No one really tells students how to move out – there’s no manual or guide for moving – and students should take more responsibility.

As wild as it sounds, moving dates can sneak up on students because it comes at the end of a month filled with exams. Some students may still be looking for jobs. So when it is suddenly April 29 and you have two days to pack up your life and move, of course it is going to be a messy transition. Suddenly, you’re asking questions you never thought about: what do I do with an old mattress I don’t need? How do I get rid of this couch? Do I leave this old TV stand at the side of the road and hope the city garbage collectors take it?

If students can clean this up, it could go a long way in repairing the relationship with Westdale/Ainslie Wood. It looks trashy to have the garbage lying on the side of the road for a week and we know Westdale residents pride themselves on the look of the neighbourhood. This is the same group who designed multiple Snapchat filters for a suburb within a suburb. (The Westdale sign one is terrible, by the way. Takes up too much space.)

Students have to make moving a larger priority, but some resources would help. Perhaps the Society of Off-Campus students or the Student Community Support Network could put something together. The answers to these questions are relatively straightforward but it is a matter of knowing where to look.

Like most disagreements, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Students are nowhere near as bad as residents make us out to be and we are far from perfect neighbours. Putting more effort into making our moves cleaner would show residents that we are at least trying to get better.

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