It was brought to the attention of editors at The Michigan Daily in February of 2007 that one of the writers who contributed to the text of this editorial, Devika Daga, committed acts of plagiarism in several other articles. While we have found no instances of plagiarism in this particular editorial, there is a possibility that there may have been.
All editorials in The Michigan Daily represent the views of the members of its editorial board. The potential plagiarism has no weight on the arguments presented in this editorial and the editors stand by those arguments.

Sarah Royce

It’s a shame that in a city otherwise at the forefront of the recycling movement, the city leaders themselves are undermining environmental policy. While Ann Arbor’s recycling program is well established, the process is often far too cumbersome due to the city government’s reluctance to ensure landlords provide students with ways to recycle. In its failure to enforce this policy, the city risks aggravating relations with University students, many of whom live in off-campus housing and want to recycle. Furthermore, the effectiveness of city ordinances in general largely relies on the city actually following through with its own policy. In an effort to show that it respects student concerns and the democratic process, the city government must make enforcement of the recycling ordinance a higher priority.

A city ordinance requires owners of rental units to supply renters with outdoor recycling containers. Those operating larger housing complexes must also provide a plan explaining how they will meet these requirements.

According to the city’s systems analyst, however, this ordinance is generally not enforced. Residents at University Towers, for example, must choose to either not recycle or haul their recyclables somewhere else because management has failed to provide recycling options. The city’s neglect on this issue has caught the attention of many environmentally conscious students, who have taken recycling efforts into their own hands.

While the student response to the city government’s inaction should be applauded, the city is ultimately at fault for failing to enforce the recycling ordinance. In complexes such as University Towers, where management claims it was unaware of the ordinance, the city has an obligation to intervene on behalf of students. In failing to do so, the city is essentially creating a double standard. Indeed, when the tables are reversed and students fail to follow a city ordinance, punitive actions are more likely to be taken.

Though it is the city’s responsibility to be an active force in the recycling process, it is also in the city’s best interest to do so because it would demonstrate an interest in students’ concerns. Given that roughly 70 percent of the student body lives off-campus, enforcement of the ordinance could improve the often contentious relations between students and city government. Conversely, a passive role may ultimately weaken the city government’s authority; though a recycling ordinance may be considered petty, this example of negligence may lead students to doubt that more serious measures, such as the new lease-date ordinance, will actually be enforced.

With the establishment last year of a joint Michigan Student Assembly-City Council committee, relations between students and their city have improved since the infamous attempt to ban porch couches three summers ago. By enforcing its recycling ordinances, the city could build more goodwill. In the meantime, however, it is up to campus groups and off-campus students to put the mantra of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” into action themselves.

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