SGA makes sustainability permanent effort

Olivia Mohr

On Thursday, Aug. 24, SGA’s Sustainability Committee held its first meeting as a permanent SGA committee.

During the meeting, the committee discussed ideas for the semester, event preparation and upcoming events.

SGA’s Sustainability Committee Chair Ian Hamilton said he feels the committee will make progress toward the SGA initiative of sustainability.

“I’m fairly confident we can get a lot done,” Hamilton said. “Especially with the progress we’ve made in the past few years and with Dr. Caboni. I think he’s really receptive to what we’re trying to do … what I’ve learned in the past years [is] we can pass a lot of things, but if the board isn’t behind it or [WKU’s president] isn’t behind it, it doesn’t get far.”

Coordinator of Resource Conservation Elizabeth Gafford said she is trying to engage students in an app called Litterati, which would allow students to take pictures of litter and trash on campus. The app would then log where and what the litter was and create data about what litter we have in various areas around campus.

Gafford encouraged members of the committee to start using the app and spread the word.

“That can help us with education and outreach and fine tune that effort,” she said.

Gafford also discussed the Diddle Arena recycling program, through which each participating student organization can bring 30 student volunteers to pick up trash and recycling in exchange for service hours, free t-shirts for student volunteers and a $500 donation to the participating student organization. The program was piloted last February.

“It was a huge success, so now we’re implementing it for the entire basketball season for all women’s and men’s games, and we have a lot of interest so far, but we need a lot more to make sure this goes off without a hitch,” Gafford said.

The committee members also mentioned ideas for the semester, none of which have been instituted. Some of the ideas mentioned were No Shave November to conserve water and save razors, a green game or football sustainability initiative, expanding the Big Red Bikes program and a Green Squirrel of Approval program for students, which would educate students about sustainability on campus.

SGA recently put a reusable bag program in place in the SGA office, where each student who wants a reusable bag can exchange 25 plastic bags for a reusable bag, as the committee discussed.

Office of Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan said she feels excited about members’ ideas for potential sustainability efforts.

“All the ideas bring a smile to my face because they’re all good, and it’s just really good to hear that students are thinking about these things and wanting to see this kind of change on our campus,” she said.

Ryan is also looking forward to starting a climate change conversation on campus through deliberative dialogue, which trains people to have “difficult conversations.”

She feels climate change conversation often “doesn’t go anywhere” because some people “believe it’s just political,” and she feels conversation is important.

“Maybe if we start talking about it enough, then we start having some momentum for actually taking some action,” she said.

Committee meetings will be held every Thursday in the senate chambers on the second floor of DSU, with events beginning in October.

Reporter Olivia Mohr can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected].