The University of Wisconsin-Madison Interfraternity Council organized “Mend Mendota” — a cleanup event on Lake Mendota Monday afternoon — after trash left on the ice from weekend gatherings garnered social media attention. Members of eight IFC chapters and one Panhellenic Association sorority gathered on the melting ice to pick up trash left behind after parties over the weekend.
IFC organized the event in hopes of cleaning up trash and reshaping perceptions about IFC chapters and their priorities.
“It's tough to see people singling you out for stuff that you necessarily didn't do,” said UW-Madison freshman and Acacia fraternity member Owen Osga. “Whether or not it was us, it's our responsibility to make sure that the lake is good for everybody, so I do hope that it helps a little bit with the reputation. But, mostly I just hope the lake gets clean.”
Members of PHA sorority Kappa Alpha Theta were also on the ice after members of its sustainability committee organized its own cleanup.
“Greek life is definitely getting a bad rep, not only for breaking COVID restrictions, but disrespecting the environmental features around us, so we really wanted to show a unified front with a bunch of other Greek organizations to show that we care about our campus, keeping it clean, and then just really protecting our lakes,” said Kappa Alpha Theta sustainability committee member Bea Millan-Windorski.
Greek life members walked along the shoreline of Lake Mendota where parties over the weekend took place. Using hockey sticks and other tools, students dug in the thawing ice for any remaining trash.
Cleanup of trash left on the ice after parties Saturday began Sunday. It took around 20 people a half hour to remove most of the trash off the ice. Once finished, about 35 bags of trash had been filled, said freshman and Acacia member Martin Brown.
“Obviously when you're out here enjoying the day, you don't really think about all the harm you could be causing the lake with the trash and everything,” said junior and Acacia member Jack Polick. “Now that we're out here, cleaning up the trash, you kind of start to realize what effect it can have on the lake.”
Alexandra Fried, a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sustainability committee, said that the cleanup event was a success, and the students involved were able to get most of the trash off of the ice.
“It's great to see a pretty big turnout of a lot of kids who obviously care a lot about our lakes, and our campus, and the cleanliness of it,” said Polick. “So I'm very proud of the turnout we had and to see just that a group of fraternity and sorority kids can throw this together a day in advance and then just kind of go through with it and do a really good thing for the school.”
Eight IFC chapters — Acacia, Theta Delta Chi, Delta Upsilon, Beta Theta Pi, Phi Gamma Delta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Alpha Sigma Phi and Tau Kappa Epsilon — took part in the cleanup Monday afternoon. Also involved were members of PHA sorority Kappa Alpha Theta.
“I'm just really happy to see unity with Greek organizations in a time that's really separating us.” said Millan-Windorski.