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Student group builds bridges by cleaning Genesee

October 19, 2017
student lifting a barrelMatthew Ferguson '20 lifts a 55-gallon barrel out of the Genesee River as part of student service partnership between the Inter-Class Living Community and Southwest Rochester Rotary. (University of Rochester photo / Ian Brodka '19)

Ten members of the Inter-Class Living Community recently rolled up their sleeves, pulled on their boots, and started working on cleaning the Genesee River.

Early on a Saturday morning last month, the students gathered trash bags, shovels, gloves, and grabber tools and cleared 300 pounds of waste from the shore. Their biggest achievements were the removal of a 55-gallon barrel and a 60-pound bridge railing.

The student group worked with the Southwest Rochester Rotary and other local volunteers, hoping to strengthen ties between the University and the city of Rochester.

two students walking through trees

Callie Winters ’20, left, and Grace O’Hare ’20 work through dense foliage to pick up trash on the shore of the Genesee River. (University of Rochester photo / Ian Brodka ’19)

“Part of our goal was to clean the river, and the other was to build bridges,” says Daniel DeMarle, a local educational consultant, coordinator of the event, and a rotary member. “We want the students to see that we care about our neighborhood, so they should care about our neighborhood, too. Let’s work together on it.”

Ori Yehezkely ‘18, president of the Inter-Class Living Community and a psychology major from Miami, emphasizes the importance of University students connecting with the surrounding area.

“I think all college students have a responsibility to do good in the community,” she says. “We benefit so much from being in Rochester, I think it’s only right to give back.”

two students wading in the river

Sarah Murphy ’19, left, and Callie Winters ’20 wade through the waters of the Genesee to clean up pollution. (University of Rochester photo / Ian Brodka ’19)

ICLC is a special interest housing group that promotes community engagement by encouraging camaraderie between students on campus, volunteering within the city of Rochester, and strengthening connections among its own group members.

“ICLC is all about bringing people together,” says vice president Sarah Murphy ’19, a Denver native majoring in English and French. “We plan our activities to build relationships between people with different experiences and backgrounds.”

Community Connections: A Newscenter series highlighting the ties between the University and its communities.The rotary shares this mission, focusing on service in the southwest Rochester area. The club organizes local projects, such as pop-up art, river cleanups, and volunteer trips that make a positive impact on the neighborhood.

This is the second time that the Inter-Class Living Community and Southwest Rochester Rotary have teamed up to clear the river, and both groups hope to do it again in the spring.

“The people we worked with embody the spirit of Meliora,’” Murphy says. “It was really uplifting to spend time with them. With their kindness and genuine interest in getting to know us, it was a really wonderful group of people to work with.”

DeMarle says that the feelings are mutual.

“The students of ICLC are great to work with,” he says. “They have energy and enthusiasm, and when asked to work, they work hard and do so with a smile. I look forward to working with them again in the future.”

group photo of people in matching t-shirts and shovels and bags)

Local volunteers of Southwest Rochester join together with members of the Inter-Class Living Community. (University of Rochester photo / Ian Brodka ’19)

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Category: Student Life