ADOPT-A-BLOCK

Students interested in participating in the Adopt-A-Block competition can sign up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at a table in front of the University of Colorado Book Store in the University Memorial Center.

Can't make it to the UMC today? E-mail cuadoptablock@gmail.com to sign up.

On a Monday morning, after a weekend of house parties and hijinks, University Hill can look worse for the wear.

In an effort to change that -- and in the spirit of neighborliness --University of Colorado student leaders are sponsoring a weeks-long competition to keep the Hill clean.

"Students aren't really encouraged to own the Hill," said Eva Hueber, a 2009 CU grad who dreamt up the project last year while serving in the student government and who now works on public safety and community projects in the vice chancellor for administration's office. "My belief is that if they are given the opportunity to own it and recognize that it's theirs, that they'll treat it better."

Hence, the first-ever Adopt-A-Block: A Uni Hill Community Competition.

Student groups can sign up beginning Monday to "adopt" a block of the Hill. In the weeks leading up to the homecoming football game on Halloween, they'll be responsible for keeping their block clean; that means no beer bottles littering the lawns, no cigarette butts crushed into the sidewalks and no leaves scattered willy-nilly.

Judges will grade the blocks on a set of cleanliness criteria every Monday, beginning Oct. 12. The group with the tidiest block will win a cash prize, and have its feat announced at Folsom Field during the homecoming game and memorialized by a plaque to be mounted somewhere on the Hill.

Hueber and the CU Student Union hope the contest will smooth relations between students who rent and party on the Hill and the neighborhood's year-round residents.

"Unfortunately, the Hill gets trashed on the weekends," said Ashley Michelson, a CU senior and UCSU's neighborhood and city relations director. "There's cups and trash all over the place."

Those cups bother Jane Stoyva the most. Stoyva has lived on the Hill for 40 years and is chairwoman of the University Hill Neighborhood Association. Mondays can be unpleasant, she said.

"Beer bottles appear on your lawn," she said. "Papers appear. The detritus of too much partying and lack of respect for the neighborhood. (Students) don't think about what it's like to live here."

Stoyva said she thinks the Adopt-A-Block competition is a great idea.

"It'll be interesting to see the students take on a project that could involve residents," she said. "Usually, you have students on one side and residents on the other. We should all mix together."

Organizers of the competition plan to encourage students to knock on the doors of the residents on their block and offer a hand raking leaves or picking up trash, Hueber said. The groups will be able to borrow all the leaf-raking and trash-collecting supplies they'll need from a booth run by UCSU and set up at the recently revived Hill Flea market from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Sunday.

The booth also will provide the groups with blank, campaign-sized signs that they can decorate and plant on the lawns of their block to mark their territory. In addition to student organizations, Adopt-A-Block organizers are encouraging faculty, families and groups of friends to sign up, as well.

"I hope it'll fly," Stoyva said. "And I hope residents will get out there and be a part of it."

Hueber hopes the same thing. She said she'd like to see it turn into a permanent program.

"This is a pilot for us," she said. "It's a test for us to see if students really can take it on.

"We're hoping this can kind of be an example for long-term options for the future."