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The UA, CHAS and Eco-Reps, along with the Civic House, held a river cleanup at the Neshaminy State Park along the Delaware River. Provost Vincent Price and three busfuls of students attended. Credit: Thomas Jansen

On Sunday afternoon, students got dirty for a good cause.

As a part of the University’s Year of Water initiative, student groups congregated to clean up trash along the shore of the Delaware River at Neshaminy State Park. The event was sponsored by the Undergraduate Assembly, College Houses and Academic Services, Eco-Reps and Philadelphia organization United by Blue.

Students, faculty and United by Blue members collected 1,589 pounds of trash and recyclables during the Sunday kick-off of the week-long River Rescue, according to United by Blue President Brian Linton. Linton’s group, a sustainable apparel retailer and ocean-conservation group, provided trash bags and helped plan the event.

According to Rob Nelson, director of education in the Provost’s Office, approximately 125 students participated. Although he hoped for a larger turnout, Nelson, who helped plan the event, enjoyed seeing the students’ camaraderie. “My favorite thing is that there’s a real sense of community, people meeting other people,” he said.

At capacity, 700 to 800 students could participate throughout the week’s clean-up events, he said. He hopes that Sunday’s event will raise environmental awareness among students. “There will be a buzz,” he said.

Provost Vincent Price said that the river clean-up is just one part of the University’s implementation of the Climate Action Plan, a blueprint for establishing environmental sustainability that was released last year. “It’s a phenomenal sign of [the students’] commitment to taking climate action,” he said.

He emphasized that the University’s efforts are not self-centered. “It’s not just about Penn,” he said. “It’s about the region.”

Eighteen University groups are sponsoring the week’s clean-ups, according to College senior Nicole Dillard, co-chairperson of Civic House Associates Coalition and chief student organizer. “They’re mobilizing the students that they reach and the staff in their organization,” she explained.

As of Sunday afternoon, approximately 200 people had signed up to participate in the week’s events, she said.

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